Category Archives: personal

Recommended Coffee Shops by City

Over time I’ve created a list of quality coffee shops that I have either been to or has been recommended from various places and friends such as The Coffee Compass. I hope to keep this list growing and updated to help you and me find good coffee on our travels. If you have any recommendations that you think should be added please send me a message on Twitter (@renshaw330)

You can check it out here: brianrenshaw.com/coffee

Current Cities:

  • Louisville, KY
  • Indianapolis, IN
  • Cincinnati, OH
  • Nashville, TN
  • St. Louis, MO
  • Columbus, MO

Eating Habits, Fitness, 100 lbs Down, and the Apple Watch

Recently I wrote about my journey of 200 days of walking at least 10,000 steps (now at 234 days) but the other half of the story is the eating habits, getting in shape, and losing weight. As I said previously, it all started one day when I was walking around a seminary campus and I was out of breath, sweating, and tired. I needed a change and I knew that it had to begin with eating. Anything you read about trying to lose weight says this as much. A healthy lifestyle begins with what you put in your body. At this point I hadn’t conducted any research but I decided that I was going to try to cut down on refined foods, fried foods, and sweets. This seemed like a simple way to begin to reduce my caloric intake without making drastic changes. In addition, I tried eating less, which was always difficult. So I did this for about a couple months until I was introduced to a guy named Phil Maffetone.

Eating Habits

Maffetone specializes on topics such as fat loss, fitness, and healthy living. Three key takeaways helped shape my eating habits that I’ve continued to this day:

  1. Sugar addiction is a real thing – at first, I would have said there is no way that I have a sugar addiction. I never really craved sweets (although when I did eat sweets it was entirely too much) and I wouldn’t say that I had a “sweet tooth.” But as I read and began looking at labels I realized that sugar is in everything. I was in an endless cycle of craving carbs, especially sugar. This craving leads to a further poor diet and consistently stores the carbs as fat.
  2. Carbohydrate Intolerance – Maffetone argues that carbs are actually the real reason for the fat epidemic in our society. Our high carb diet is actually making us gain weight. High carbs over a long period of time aid high blood sugar, fatigue throughout the day, bloating, lack of concentration and more. Eventually this leads to high blood, gaining fat, diabetes, and more. Looking at my way of eating it was extremely high in carbs, especially of the refined variety.
  3. My diet should consist of higher amounts of fat and low amounts of carbohydrates. This was the most surprising of all to me. How could a diet that is 60-80% fat be good. After doing further reading I realized that he is probably right. And, my experience after 6 months of eating this way I think he is correct. A high fat low carb diet has given me more energy than I’ve ever have. I don’t get sleepy anymore. Haven’t been bloated since eating this way. Headaches are almost non-existent. And overall, I’ve felt better than ever. Additionally, I’ve not worried about the amount of calories I intake but rather on eating the right foods. I probably eat about as much as I used to but it is the right foods now. This way of eating is also really easy when eating out. No bun on sandwiches, salads instead of fries, and grilled instead of fried foods. Overall, this has been the biggest change for me.

Whole Foods

It really is crazy how much sugar is in processed foods. Anything from spaghetti sauce, to juices, to “healthy” snack bars, to protein shakes, and much more. I’ve slowly learned that you have to read the label on everything plus the ingredients to see what and how much sugar has been added to the product. This has largely led to a mostly whole food way of eating because it is healthier and just easier to do.

Fats

My fats have largely come from a variety of nuts, olive oil, and coconut or MCT oil. In the morning, I’ll have a couple eggs, berries, 2-3 tablespoons of coconut or MCT oil, and a tablespoon of olive oil. Avocados have also become a staple in my diet. Still seems crazy to me starting by day with 300-500 calories of fat first thing but its been working really well.

Apple Watch & Fitness

When I first received an Apple Watch I basically used it for notifications. I basically ignored the fitness tracking and filling up my activity rings. But I decided it was a good time to start paying attention to the rings so I wore the watch when working out. I was so out of shape that filling the activity rings was fairly easy. As I progressed, my goals increased, and had to work harder and be more active throughout the day to hit them. I’ve always set my goals to be achievable by just being active throughout the day, generally by walking. I didn’t want to set unrealistic expectations (and unhealthy!) of having to do a formal workout everyday but I also need to be more active (this is wear the walking and 10,000 steps per day comes in).
As I continued, I realized I was piling on several days of filling up all my activity rings. This became motivation to fill up my rings every day. There are countless days that I know I would not have been active throughout the day if it wasn’t for the Apple Watch and the streak of days that I had built up. I remember several instances around Christmas with traveling that I was sitting a lot. A couple nights I would get on the treadmill and walk for 20, 30, or 40 minutes so I could fill up my rings. I know for a fact, that without this motivation I would not have done this at 11:30 pm at night! So, while it may seem ridiculous to say that my journey of weight loss and better fitness is attributed to the Apple Watch, I really don’t think I would be here without it.

Concluding Thoughts

Overall, this journey of weight loss and better fitness has been challenging but fun. At this point I’ve been doing this for almost 8 months (235 days to be exact) and have never felt better. I just hit the 100 lbs down mark a week or so ago, dropped several shirt sizes, and drastically reduced my pant size. I never would have thought that this was possible but now, the change in eating, habit of staying active, and reaching those daily goals to not break the streak is now part of my life. I wouldn’t say I am on a “diet” but rather this is just the way I eat now. Most of the motivation is how I feel. Its less about losing the weight (although that is certainly part of the goal) but rather feeling confident and energized throughout the day. Its been a great journey and fun to reflect about it in this post.

Writing 30 Minutes a Day

About a month ago I was lamenting the state of my blog with Brian Davidson. We were both wanting to write but hindered by the invisible forces of the blank page coupled with the wall of perfection. After talking for awhile we realized we needed to just simplify the process. Writing doesn't have to be perfect (because it never will be) nor does it need to be ground breaking. My favorite sites are the ones that post everyday about the topics they are interested in. So we decided to start a challenge: post every weekday. That's it. No length or topic requirements. Just write. Everyday.

My Routine

I don't have time to spend 60-120 minutes to craft a blog post everyday. So I decided to set a 30 minute time limit for each post. 30 minutes from start to finish, no more. Additionally, any topic is wide open. For me, this means that most will be either self-reflective posts, technology and apps, or productivity. But I am not trying to limit myself. If I have an idea of something I want to write about then I add it to the list, sit down, and write.

What I've Learned

One of the reasons that I've kept this up (besides not losing the challenge) is that I've found several side benefits of doing this:

  • Helping to avoid writer's block: I've noticed that the practice of forcing myself to write even when I don't think I have anything is getting easier each writing session. Additionally, I've been gaining confidence to overcome the blank page, which has helped my writing in more important areas of my life (academics and work)
  • Writing daily: I've written more words this past month than probably any other stretch of time in my life. Writing is becoming more natural and I slowly but surely am becoming a better writer. Its only been a month but I'm encouraged.
  • Learning by writing: Writing for this blog has helped me solidify my thinking on different topics. For example, I was finally able to reflect on writer's block and different other aspects of writing. Additionally, I was able to finally reflect on my weekly review that I've been doing for the past several months. Finally, its sparked conversations with friends and others about things I've posted.

At the end of the day, my writing isn't perfect nor will it ever be. The topics are somewhat eclectic and may appeal more to some but not to others. At the end of the day, I'm not trying to build a personal brand or gather a bunch of followers but become a better writer and share my thoughts on topics I'm interested in. Hopefully, you will find some that are helpful or cause you to ponder different ways of doing things as well. Writing on the web is fun but also challenging. Putting myself out there with imperfect thoughts is a challenge but I've been better for doing it.

So, thanks for reading and and happy Memorial Day!

Reflections from Good Boss, Bad Boss

I recently finished Good Boss Bad Boss by Robert Sutton . In short, Sutton survey’s managers of hundreds of companies and seeks to determine what makes a good boss vs. a bad boss. One of the key takeaways for people who manager others is to have the self-awareness of how what you say and what you do effects others. People under you look up to you for guidance, leadership, company direction, safety in their position, protection from others in the company, and more. Too often those who manage people lose sight of this. If you manage people, whether it be as a pastor, manager, or even in a volunteer position this book is worth reading. Throughout, it sparked several areas of reflection for my own position in leading and managing a team. One of the key takeaways was that often managers and leaders have a higher view of themselves than the people under them do. Being able to properly assess yourself is key because we often think that we are leading well and people have a high view of us but in too many scenarios this is not true. Leading well and managing people involves self-reflection and proper assessment of how your actions and words effect others around you. This is amplified when those around you are people you manage.

Note: there is some crude language throughout the book but despite this caveat I highly recommend it if you are in a position over others

Instead of a full review of the book I’ve catalogued several quotes from the book:

Quotes

  • Small wins: Great big goals set direction and energize people, but if goals are all you’ve got, you are doomed. The path to success is paved with small wins (27).
  • Protecting your people: …a hallmark of effective bosses everywhere is that they doggedly protect their people (36).
    • Do you see your job as caring for and protecting your people, and fighting for them when necessary? Or do you consider it too much trouble to advocate for resources they need or too personally risky to battle idiocy from on high? When your people screw up, do you take the heat or hang them out to dry? When you screw up, do you admit it or point the finger of blame at your innocent underlings (37)?
  • Self-assessment: despite our beliefs to the contrary, most of us suffer the same distorted self-assessments as our colleagues. Worse yet, the most deeply incompetent people suffer from the most inflated assessments of their own abilities and performance (40).
  • Making decisions: Indecision is a hallmark of crummy bosses (54).
  • Taking responsibility: Don’t just accept blame and apologize. Bosses need to take immediate control over whatever they can, show they have learned from failures, announce new plans, and–when changes are implemented–make sure that everyone knows they have wrestled back control over the situation (63).
  • Having an accurate assessment of your product: Wise bosses don’t just encourage followers to reveal bad news. They dig for evidence that clashes with their presumptions (82).
  • Humility: Wise bosses have the confidence to act on what they know and the humility to doubt their knowledge (73).
  • Self-awareness: When people seem to be perfect, it just means you don’t know them very well. A hallmark of wise bosses is that they are not only aware of their ignorance, weak skills, and character flaws–they actually do something about it. They deal with their Achilles’ heels (91).
  • Gratitude: Expressing gratitude is especially important when the stench of failure is in the air. These are times when people most need support from the boss and each other (97).
  • Imitation: Mindless imitation is among the most dangerous and widespread forms of management idiocy (148).
  • On authenticity: I asked Pixar’s two-time Academy Award-winner Brad Bird: What kind of people are especially poisonous to innovation? He answered: “People who talk quality but don’t put it in their own work, yeah, it’s those types. You know, I don’t mind somebody who’s green if they’re engaged, because I know they’re on the hunt. But there are people who know the buzzwords of quality people, but don’t actually walk the walk (128).
  • Leading in areas that aren’t your strength: In an ideal world, bosses would always manage work they understood deeply. But it. isn’t always feasible. Every boss can’t have deep knowledge of every follower’s expertise, When that happens, a boss’s job is to ask good questions, listen, defer m those with greater expertise., and, above all, to accept his or her own ignorance. Those who fail to do so risk making bad decisions and ruining their reputation (134).
  • Be on time to meetings, especially with those who are under you: Yes, some are necessary, but too many bosses run them in ways that disrespect people’s time and dignity—especially self-absorbed bosses bent on self-glorification. If you want to grab power and don’t care much about your people, make sure you arrive a little late to most meetings. Plus, every now and then, show up very late, or—better yet—send word after everyone has gathered that, alas, you must cancel the meeting because something more pressing has come up. After all, if you are a very important Person, the little people need to accept their inferior social standing (157).
  • More on self-awareness Developing and sustaining self-awareness ought to be at the top of the list for every boss. David Dunning, of Cornell University, shows that a hallmark of poor performers is a lack of self-awareness; they consistently overestimate their skills in just about any task that requires intellectual and social skills, such as debating, having a sense of humor, or interviewing others. In contrast, Dunning finds that self-awareness is a hallmark of the best performers—they are especially cognizant of their strengths and weaknesses, and fret about overcoming pitfalls that can undermine their performance (244).
    • If you are a boss, your success depends on staying in tune with how others think, feel, and react to you. Bosses who persistently promote performance and humanity devote considerable energy to reading and responding to followers’ feelings and actions, and those of other key players like superiors, peers, and customers. Of course, there is no single magical or simple thing that defines a great boss. (244)
  • Recognition of your limitations of self-awareness: If you wield authority over others, it dulls your ability to be in tune with their needs, feelings, and actions and what it’s like to work for you (256).
  • Management vs. Leadership: There is a difference between management and leadership, but focusing on it is dangerous (263).
  • Don’t just be nice: Bosses who are civilized and caring, but incompetent, can be really horrible (266).

Slowing Down and Being Known

Being present with others is a risk to be known. We desperately want to be known, respected, understood, and ultimately loved. But that process involves a risk that not only the good will be known by someone else but also the bad. It means not living life in the fast lane but slowing down to look someone in the eyes and have a conversation. We all want this but today it is so easy to hide behind screens or move so fast that we can’t be known by someone else. Because if we are known then someone might find out how broken we truly are and know what a mess our life is. The screen allows us to put up that persona that everything is alright. Constantly on the run and never slowing down means that we never have to stop, think, and open up to others because we have something else to do or somewhere else to be.

This is also true in the work place. We can be so caught up in our job completing the next task that we hardly know the people we work with. Conversations sit atop the surface because we have something else to do, some project to work on, or another deadline. I don’t want to be known by them because they may find out I’m a fraud, broken, and not worth caring for. Its not to say that our work relationships have to be at the same deep level as some of our closest friends but it is a challenge to slow down, be present, and talk without distractions.

The idea of slowing down and being present with others is scary, at least for me. Sitting down, talking, and asking the hard questions with no phone for distractions nor rushing to go to the next thing but just being present and listening is hard. Its a risk to be present because in that moment your facade may come crumbling down revealing your true self.

These thoughts were sparked a recent video, Godspeed, where a seminary grad moves to Scotland to work on his PhD but ends up pastoring a local parish and learns what it means to slow down to God’s speed. The state of being present with others and entering into their lives. To not move so fast but to slow down and actually have conversations with people. You can watch the trailer below or the full video here.

Follow the story of an American pastor whose desire to change the world grinds to a halt in a Scottish parish. Join Eugene Peterson, N. T. Wright, Alan Torrance, and Granny Wallace on a pilgrimage to being known in your own backyard. 

200 Days of 10,000 Steps

200 days in a row of 10,000 steps or more.

2,744,918 steps total (~1,239 miles)

Motivation is weird

You can hear all the motivational quotes, speeches, tricks, and more and still not be motivated. Then something will happen that inspires you to press on and that becomes the motivation.

Well, that’s what happened back in October. I’ve been overweight since high school and even then I wasn’t in the best shape of my life. Being a 3-sport athlete then definitely helped but most of my adult life I have been different levels of overweight. Over the past couple years it was definitely taking a turn for worse. I knew I needed to lose weight but school, work, time, and other commitments always took priority. Plus, I just love to eat.

In October, I went to visit Trinity Evangelical Divinity School with my doctoral supervisor. The school is his alma mater so we walked around campus and he showed me around and shared memories with me. It was a sweet time there but I’ll never forget the feeling I just had walking around the campus.

Short of breath. Sweating. Ashamed.

Just from simple walks around a school campus. Additionally, the ETS/SBL conferences that I attend every year were a month away. Similar feelings of shame accompany those from just walking around the conference in previous years and just being tired, short of breath, and an unnecessary high heart rate due from the simple fact of getting around from place to place. Something clicked for me on that October day that changed my daily routine for months to come.

When I got home I made a goal for myself that when the conferences rolled around I would be in basic shape to be able to walk around and not be short of breath. So, the next morning I woke up, did an elliptical exercise, walked the dog, and tried to be active during the work day. After a couple days of this and checking my Apple Watch I realized I was pretty close to 10k steps on those days. Looking back at previous days I was anywhere from 2,000 to 4,500 steps. So, I made another goal:

10,000 steps everyday.

Since October 20, 2016 I’ve hit this 10,000 daily step goal. Some days its harder than others such as rainy days, snow, travel days, and don’t forget Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. When ETS/SBL came I felt more confidant, had dropped a little bit of weight, but more significantly, I could take a walk without immediately being short of breath.

The journey has taken many different twists and turns (I’ll write about the weight loss aspect another time) but having the daily goal of 10k steps has given me motivation to live better, eat better, and just be more disciplined in all aspects of life. At this point, I really don’t want to break the streak because there is a lot of work in those 200 days. Gamifaction , at least for me, definitely is a motivating factor now.

By now, I basically know what I need to do throughout the day to hit the goal. Its actually surprisingly easy but it does take several changes in your schedule. I’ve always been afraid of “losing time” when it comes to working out but human nature is weird. Somehow, even with less “time” I’m still able to get the same amount or more done. I’m actually more focused during work and study since I’ve started this new routine. Plus, 1,500 steps takes about 12-15 minutes for me. So taking a two 15 minute breaks during the day accounts for 3,000 steps.

This streak has taught me that I can be disciplined in other areas as well. Its given me motivation in my reading, writing, work, and study. Just as an athlete works out and runs in training to be ready for their sporting even this daily goal of walking has trained me to be more disciplined and focused in many other aspects of my life.

Normal Day

  • Take our dog out and go for a 15 minute walk first thing in the morning (1,500 steps)
  • 30-minute workout on weekdays (2,000-4,000 steps generally accumulated)
  • 2 15-20 minute breaks during the day of just walking and thinking (1,500-2,000)
  • Take our dog out in the even and go on a 15 minute walk (1,500 steps)
  • Above are all the “extra” activities I’ve implemented then the rest of my normal day-to-day activities account for 2,000-4,000 steps throughout the day.

In order to track steps I use the Apple Watch with the Pedometer++ App by David Smith .

Blogging Woes

You may have noticed that I haven't wrote anything on this blog or my more tech related one (techademic.co) for almost a year. Part of this has been due to job changes in the past year and just being generally more busy. But for some reason I've felt crippled when trying to write anything. This site began as a biblical studies blog but honestly, my interest in writing blog posts on this topic has been waning for awhile. My other site, Techademic, was a breath of fresh air for writing tech related posts but that too has not been updated in awhile. I feel that I've fell into a trap of thinking I need to write something substantative for each site with images, intro/conclusion, covering multiple aspects of a topic and whatnot. What this has done is caused me not to write anything at all even though I have the urge to write on many different items.

My good friend, Brian Davidson, was having the same feels as well. He has just decided to use his site to write on whatever he would like. On his about page he wrote this:

This blog started as a way of collecting and sharing random biblical studies related things that I find interesting. While I still share biblical studies related content, the blog has morphed into a personal site where I also share teaching experiences, thoughts on technology, and anything else I'm excited about.

So I am going to start taking the same approach and just write on whatever I'd like to on here. Some posts will be biblical studies related but the site will be less on a topic and more of me. I hope this helps the paralyzed state I always find myself when glancing at my site and feeling shame for not writing anything anymore. I really do enjoy writing on this site and others but I just need to allow myself the freedom to do whatever is my interests.

Therefore, the goal is just simple, generally short, content of stuff that interests me.

Enjoy!

Writing Tips from Dr. Brian Vickers

In the beginning of my Acts Exegesis seminar with Dr. Brian Vickers he gave us several tips on writing that I thought were helpful:

  • Stop using the backspace key: In this digital age we have trained ourselves to try and produce a perfect draft as we are writing. This causes a number of issues: 1) This does not allow us to freely write down all our thoughts. Indeed, we do learn as we write[1] If we are continually correcting what we are writing this hurts the development process 2) It falsely makes us think that our first draft is our final draft (see point below) 3) It develops a choppy and less coherent (maybe even incoherent!) paper.
  • Learn to write a horrible first draft: Much of what you write should not even make it to your final draft. Building on the point above, the writing process is one of learning and developing as you go.
  • Learn to just write: He suggests developing a good thorough outline. Don’t think of this as a static outline that you must conform your paper to but expect it to change, as it should, during the writing process. By having an outline it gives you a guide and destination to your writing. Too often people write without knowing where they are going or even where they will end. This is reflected in the final draft.
  • Develop a clear and articulate thesis: You should expect your thesis to take many drafts before its final form. I would also add that you should be in conversation with others about your thesis to help aid you in this endeavor.
  • Don’t wait untill the last minute: This should be self explanatory but don’t wait until the day before a writing project is due to gget started.

  1. See points 5 and 6 here.  ↩

Emoji

Emoji.

For me, this word conjures up a sense of childness and immaturity. Ever since people in my circle’s started using emoji’s I’ve been adamently against them. What is wrong with simple text based communication and using symbols such as 🙂 at the end of a message to denote a light heartedness to your message? Why must we use cartoon looking characters such as 😃 and 😭 to communicate? They look ridiculous.

My Doktorvater, Jonathan Pennington, has been encouraging me to read this article from New York Magazine on the history of the emoji. I must admit, reading this has opened up my mind a little bit. I’ve always known that I’m bucking against the norm and probably in my own stubbornness and immaturity is the reason I’ve rejected the emoji. But in my own stubbornness I’ve missed out on the beauty of how language works. All language is a sea of symbols. The words on this page are just a pile of symbols that we have culturally accepted to represent something other than the word. Emoji’s are just part of the evolution of how we communicate. They also have a brilliance to them by offering more flexibility than the traditional written word.

This elasticity of meaning is a large part of the appeal and, perhaps, the genius of emoji. They have proved to be well suited to the kind of emotional heavy lifting for which written language is often clumsy or awkward or problematic, especially when it’s relayed on tiny screens, tapped out in real time, using our thumbs. These seemingly infantile cartoons are instantly recognizable, which makes them understandable even across linguistic barriers. Yet the implications of emoji—their secret meanings—are constantly in flux.

As our world becomes more and more mobile centric and our communication is written through devices it is natural that the symbols we use to communicate will transform as well. Communication is now in bite sized pieces: short and to the point. The cleverness of the emoji is that it can pack the non-verbal into a single character on the screen.

“When it comes to text-based communication, we’re babies,” explains Tyler Schnoebelen, a linguistics Ph.D. from Stanford who works for Idibon, a text-analytics company. As he says, we’ve learned to talk, and we’ve learned to write, but we’re only now learning to write at the speed of talking (i.e., text), sending messages over vast expanses, absent any physical contextual clues. If you are talking to someone face-to-face, you don’t need an additional word or symbol to express “I’m smiling” because you would, presumably, be smiling. The psychologist Albert Mehrabian, in an oft-cited (and occasionally criticized) study, determined in the 1950s that only 7 percent of communication is verbal (what we say), while 38 percent is vocal (how we say it) and 55 percent is nonverbal (what we do and how we look while we’re saying it). This is well and good for face-to-face communication, but when we’re texting, 93 percent of our communicative tools are negated.

So maybe I should welcome the evolution of language, break my stubbornness, and embrace the emoji.

You should really check out the article: The Rapid Evolution of Emoji

Introducing Techademic

A project I have been wanting to do for while is to create a separate site focused on technology, academics, and productivity. I hope it will be a helpful resource for all but especially people who are in academics. The site will feature tips and tricks on Mac/iOS, guides on using different apps, workflows, and more. 

What does that mean for this site? Awhile back I started integrating some of the above mentioned areas (i.e. Evernote for Academics) but would like to branch out to a wider audience and have a more focused site on technology and productivity. So this site will continue on but will solely focus on biblical studies and theology.

I hope you’ve found some of the “tips and tricks” helpful and would be interested in checking out my new site. So, if you are interested, I invite you to check out Techademic! There is a lot of work to do but I hope to officially launch in the next month or so.

Site: techademic.co
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/_techademic
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/techademic

Reading the Bible in the 21st Century Conference (Louisville)

If you are in the Louisville area check out this short conference on Saturday at Second Presbyterian Church. It’s a great lineup and if you are a seminary student then the conference is free!

From their website:

The Baylor Landrum, Jr. Fund for Mentoring and Education is sponsoring a conference on January 17, 2015, 8:45 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., at Second Presbyterian Church called Reading the New Testament in the 21st Century. This conference brings together four distinguished New Testament scholars, Dr. Michael Bird, Dr. Susan Garrett, Dr. Jonathan Pennington and Dr. David DeSilva. The panel will provide useful ways to help us interpret the New Testament faithfully. The presentations will focus on the gospels, Paul’s letters and eschatology.

  • The cost is $25 for registration prior to January 9, 2015 and $35 after that date.
  • Registration fee includes lunch.
  • Childcare will be provided upon request.
  • Admission for Teaching Elders and Seminary Students is FREE.
  • This conference will be widely publicized, don’t delay, CLICK HERE to register.

Blogs to Check Out in 2015

To start off the new year I thought I would share 5 blogs that you should follow in 2015. These are in no particular order.

German for Neutestamentler – I highlighted this blog the other day but thought I should include it in this list as well. Wayne Coppins’ blog is one of the few that I regularly look forward to and read each post. He is committed to trying to bring German and English scholarship together and one of the ways he is trying to do that is through his blog. Most Mondays he provides a English translation of a German work. He not only translates the text but also gives textual notes for his translation process.

http://www.rembrandtpainting.net/rembrandt%27s_prodigal_son.html

A Chorus of Voices: The Reception History of the Parables – This is the blog of Dr. David Gowler and he is blogging through the book he is writing for the reception history of the parables. He is now in the Reformation era so you should go back and check out his posts from the previous year that focus on early and medieval interpretations of the parables and continue to follow him this year.

typewriter

Analog Blogs – Ok, I am definitely cheating here but I wanted to group this recommendation under the heading of analog tools. Each of these blogs focuses on pens, paper, and other analog tools. First, The Pen Addict by Brad Dowdy. I’ve been reading this blog (and listening to his podcast) for over a year now. He has also launched his new company, NockCo, this year. Personally, I love the Hightower to hold 3 pens and a couple Field Notes notebooks. The second, is Ed Jelly’s site. He has really ramped up his amazing photography skills along with his excellent pens and paper reviews. The final one that I want to highlight is a new site launched this year by Patrick Rhone called The Cramped. As the subtitle suggests this site focuses on the “unique pleasures of analog writing.”

The trio of sites lead by Shawn Blanc. I’ve been following Shawn now for a couple years and have always really enjoyed his writing. His personal site where he blogs about tech and design related topics and also his weekly podcast. He also heads up two other sites: The Sweet Setup and Tools and Toys. Tools and Toys is one of those sites that you want to read with your wallet in the other room. They are always highlighting some of the best gadgets (coffee, tech, writing, pocket knives, etc) and provide helpful guides. New this year is their photo essays, which are outstanding. The Sweet Setup is your one stop shop for the best recommendations for iOS and Mac apps.

coffee

What would a list of recommended blogs be without one focused on coffee?! My final recommendation is The Coffee Compass. This is your one stop shop for all things coffee whether it be coffee gear reviews, coffee shop reviews, and much more. If you like craft coffee you should definitely check this one out.

Also want to give a shoutout to Brian Leport who lead and curated the excellent Near Emmaus blog for the past several years. Even though this blog is no longer active it still has all the great content from many years past that you should check out.

Thanks for Reading and Happy New Year

Thanks to everyone who read my blog over the past year. This was really my first year blogging consistently and I hope to do more of the same in 2015.

2014 was a big year academically and professionally. I graduated with my Masters and was accepted in the Phd program at Southern and will be studying under Dr. Jonathan Pennington starting at the end of January. No, I do not have a dissertation topic yet but I know that it will be some topic within Gospel studies.

Professionally, I began doing instructional design work in the online learning department at the seminary. I begin full-time as an instructional designer January 1. Online learning is one of those things that many people (especially in biblical and theological studies) have negative opinions about. It will be part (not all!) of the educational future of many ministers, teachings, and other Christian leaders. Online learning is not something that is naturally done well. It takes much thought and planning as well as a different model for teaching and education against tradition on-campus education. I hope to be a part of the generation that learns to do this well and embrace the future of online learning. Yes, I still believe in “face-to-face” education and hope develop skills in that as well but also want to embrace and be a positive and helpful voice for online learning. 

Well, thanks again for reading my ramblings over the past year. I’ll end the year with one of my favorite quotes from Augustine in On Christian Doctrine:

“So anyone who thinks that he has understood the divine scriptures or any part of them, but cannot by his understanding build up this double love of God and neighbour, has not yet succeeded in understanding them.” (1.36.40)

Happy New Year!

How to Write a Lot

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Writing. That daunting tasks that looms ahead of every student and professor. Most people don’t have time to “write a lot” or at least so they think. The 8–10,000 word article sits before us like brocolli sits before a child wanting to get up from the table to play with the other kids. The task has to be done but it is difficult to begin. The book How to Write a Lot by Paul Silvia provides many practical tips on how to write a lot or more accurately as he describes in his final chapter How to Write More Productively During the Normal Work Week With Less Anxiety and Guilt (130)." The first three chapters: 1) Introduction 2) Specious Barriers to Writing A Lot and 3) Motivational tools are extremely helpful. The final four chapters provide many helpful tidbits but overal are focus more specifally for writing for the sciences.

Writing is hard and not natural. The act of writing takes practice, determination, and a set plan. Far too often academics long for the days off, spring breaks, and summer vacations to “get writing done” but then complain afterwards because of how much they did not accomplish. Writing is a skill that needs developed not a talent that comes naturally (6). Silvia provides four “specious barriers” that inhibit the writing process:

(1) “I can’t find time to write” also known as “I would write more if I could just find big blocks of time (11).” This is a blatant lie. Don’t believe it. Productive writing comes in smaller scheduled chunks throughout the week. If you are trying to find time to write then you will never find time but will fall into the trap of “binge writing.” This means that you have one “successful” 6 hour writing period every couple weeks and it makes you feel good inside. Don’t believe the lie. Rather, allocate your time throughout the week to write and defend it as you would your teaching schedule, time with family, and other activities that are important to you.

(2) *“I need do to some more analyses first,” aka, “I need to read a few more articles* (18).” Use your scheduled writing time to do “prewriting” as well. If you need to review some more research then do it during your scheduled time. This is help not hinder your productive writing if you are on a schedule.

(3) “To write a lot, I need new computer (see also a ”laser printer,“ ”a nice chair,“ ”a better desk") (19). This is just a lame excuse!

(4) “I’m waiting until I feel like it,” aka “I write best when I’m inspired to write” (23). Waiting for “inspiration” does not work.

We all need motiviation to help us continue writing. The third chapter outlines several motivational methods for writing:

  1. Setting specific goals
  2. Setting project goals
  3. Set concrete goals for each writing day

Goal setting is needed when it comes to writing constantly If you run out of specific goals then you are likely to become disinterested and forget why you are writing. Next, you need to write down specific project goals (journal article, thesis, book section, etc.). This allows you to track and prioratize your goals. Once you have completed steps one and two you need to write down concrete goals for the writing session (number of words, pages to research, articles to review, etc.) Everyday can’t be a certain amount of words because writing involves more than just writing it takes preperation, research, and revisision. Finally, you should monitor your progress so you can look back and see how well (or poorly!) you did. Oh, and writers block only happens to those who believe in writers block…writing begets writing so take up and write (38)!

As I said in the introduction the first three chapters are chocked full of wisdom and practical advice (along with a swift kick in the butt to get to writing!). The fourth chapter encourages you to form a writing group to help you with peoples individual goals. Chapter five examines writing helps specifically in the style of your writing. Silvia notably points out that the writing and editing process are not one in the same. Write then edit do not try to do both at the same time. Chapters 6–8 are specifically focused on writing for the sciences. Many of the same principles can be used for other fields of writing (such as theology) but practically they are aimed for a different audience.

Overall, I found this book a helpful motivator to begin writing more. I hope to take many of the principles—especially in scheduling and goal setting—in my academic career. Did I mention that it is also only 132 pages so it is an easy read for one session.

Book Review: Stylish Academic Writing

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Flip open to many academic journals and you are greeted with dense and specialized prose, default structure, and a writing style that has been passed down from supervisor to student for many years. The stuffy academic prose hinders the reader from engaging, understanding, and yes, even enjoying the research and arguments that is taking place. Helen Sword, professor at the Centre for Academic Development at the University of Auckland, specializes in literature, teaching philosophy and academic writing. Stylish Academic Writing argues that “elegant ideas deserve elegant expression” and that even in the academic world writing can be engaging and imaginative while still keeping within the professionalism that the guild requires. The research behind the book engaged in many interviews with scholars, an analysis of thousands of journal articles, and further investigation into 100 recent books on academic writing.

By default most academics do not engage in “stylistic” writing. First, writers must be open to new ways of presenting their ideas and then discipline themselves to write in such a way that is not stuffy and filled with jargon from the profession. Sword argues that writers learn from (29):

  1. memories of what our dissertation supervisor told us
  2. peer feedback
  3. examples in journals

Scholars tend to focus on styles that have been the norm within the writing they encounter rather than branching out and innovating new writing styles that are more engaging and enjoyable to the reader.

Sword addresses a variety of writing situations that create this dense prose that exists within the academy. She begins with the impersonable way in which many writers present their work. Why do writers try to engage the reader in the third person? This creates a distance between you the writer and the reader. If we write to change the mind of the reader then writing in the third person is contrary to this goal (44). Another way to become more engaging in the writing process is to use concrete language for abstract concepts. Much of our research (especially in my context of theology and biblical studies) is in the abstract but we as writers can give a concreteness to our language by taking abstract thoughts and making them more concrete. Academic prose is often filled with “to be” and passive verbs. Try changing many of your “to be” and passive verbs with “active and unusual verbs” (60).

Movies, fictional novels, and short stories generally are experts at captivating the audiences attention from the start. Writers do this in two ways: the title of the work and the introductory paragraph or scene of the piece. Sword challenges writers to come up with catchy titles that are also descriptive of the work. This is most often seen in the two-part title: Catchy Title: Descriptive Title. Sword also challenges the way in which many writers introduce their work. Too often academic article follow the same dull “4 step process” with the CARS method (77):

  1. Establish the research is significant
  2. Summarize previous research
  3. Present the gaps in the research
  4. Answer the gaps

The article needs a “hook” which engages the reader. She says, “an effective first paragraph need not be flashy, gimmicky, or even provocative. It must, however, make the reader want to keep reading” (84). She notes that in many of the journals that she examined generally one or two of the articles supplied a “hook” for the reader. Begin the work with a question, anecdote, conversation, or other methods in “hooking” the reader to keep reading the article.

In order to stray away from the abstract writing scholars should employ a variety of literary techniques in the writing such as using exmaples, anecdotes, case studies, figurative devices, allusions, and analogies (101–102). This will “revive the readers attention” (100). She provides a helpful paradigm for practicing integrating this into your writing (110–111):

  1. Choose a bland sentence of your writing
  2. Find the subject and come up with concrete similes
  3. Transform the noun into one of the figurative devices
  4. Push the limits
  5. Rework it into your sentence.

Overall, this books provides many helpful ways into making you into a better and more engaging writer. The book is filled with actual examples from academic journals and books and Sword carefully analyzes these examples and provides alternative ways of writing for each one. The end of each chapter provides a “Things to try” section that shows you how to actually improve your writing. Rather than staying in the abstract and theoretical she guides you into transforming your writing with specific steps. After reading this book I have noticed many areas in my own writing in need of improvement and will be implementing many of the suggestions noted in this short but helpful book.

Introducing The Center for Ancient Christian Studies

I am excited to announce the launch of The Center for Ancient Christian StudiesShawn Wilhite, Coleman Ford, and others put a lot of work into creating CACS. I look forward to the conversations this site will be promoting. The first journal issue will be released soon so stay tuned!

The Center for Ancient Christian Studies exists to provide an evangelical voice to the academic fields engaging ancient Christian literature. We aim to provide material, coalesce sources, and encourage the scholarly enterprise of ancient Christian studies (2nd Temple Literature, New Testament, and Patristic). We trust you will find the website and material helpful. If you would like to participate or contribute in any way, please do not hesitate to contact us and inquire about ways you can get involved.

The first blog post highlights the core values of CACS: Our Core Values – Center for Ancient Christian Studies

The Liturgy of the iPhone

In James K.A. Smith’s, Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works, book he discusses the concept of “liturgy”. In Smith’s definition, liturgy is a ritual that forms our identities. Going against the notion of “worldview” Smith argues that our daily liturgies form and shape us into a new person. He says, “a way of life become habitual for us such that we pursue that way of life—we act in that way of life—without thinking about it because we’ve absorbed the habitus that is oriented to corresponding vision of the ‘good life (140).’” Liturgies don’t just make us view the world differently but we fundamentally become a new type of human being.

He then gives the example of the way the iPhone (and other smartphones) have shaped the way we think and act. Everything is now available to us right now.

How big is the Grand Canyon? Instant answer.

I want to know if we are hanging out with our friends tonight. Instant communication.

Did the St. Louis Cardinals win tonight? Instant updates.

My professor emailed me a question. Instant response.

This friend I haven’t talked to in years is now pregnant. Instant “connection” to others.

We now live in a world where everything is instantaneos. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it has shaped us into a new humanity. Social media is just dangling there begging for our attention. No longer are the days of waking up in the morning to find the sports score, waiting until the next class to ask that professor a question, getting an update in the mail announcing a pregnancy, and so forth.

This also affects our attention to specific activities we are engaged in. Everytime we think of something that we want to know we have a device that can provide instant answers. In a worship service we might love the song but don’t know who wrote it. We can just pause, take our minds off of worshipping our Creator, and check the artist. In that sermon, the preacher says something that we want to fact check we can instantly Google the answer. In class our minds drift because there might be that Twitter mention or Facebook notification. We are now pulled in many directions while our attention is being diverted from the task at hand.

I’ve really begun to think about this in terms of both worship on Sunday mornings and class time. For the past several months I’ve been turning off my phone during worship. Not putting it on “silent” (i.e. vibrate, which the whole row can still here) but actually turning it off. These months I’ve begun to see my attention more focused on worship. I am no longer distracted by the chance that I might have missed some notification or text that family member or friend a question. I can no longer get distracted by surfing the web for a question during the sermon. My attention is focused on worshipping the living God. I have to say, it has been a great blessing these past several months. I’ve also realized that the text message can always wait, that email doesn’t need responded to right away, and the Cardinals score will always be available afterwards.

I want us to think about how we have all been effected by the liturgy of the iPhone. Turn off the phone off during worship these next couple weeks and see if this habit changes who you are and how you worship. My guess is that you will see a wonderful renewed focus on worship.

∞ On Writing: Sometimes Less is More

From the Chronicle: Vitae

When you write first thing in the morning, and then stop writing for the rest of the day, your mind will continue to process thoughts related to your project. Take advantage of that. One of the best ways is to go for a walk alone and without any electronic devices. Use the time to process your thoughts. Think back on what you have written for the day and about what you will do the next day. You may be surprised about the revelations you have about your writing when you are not writing. You may even wish to take a notepad with you on these strolls.

Link

This is really a great article. But with all articles like this the insights gleaned are useless unless you (I) act upon it.

HT: Jonathan Pennington

Check out the SBTS Library and the Fall 2014 Workshops

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One of the most valuable things that I have done at seminary is go to some of the workshops at the SBTS Library and to seek guidance from the Research Experts. This short time spent at the library has proven valuable in a couple different ways:

  1. I am able to research better and more efficiently. This is two-fold. My research is better because I now know what the quality resources are and how to use them. This leads directly into the second aspect: efficiency. Instead of spending countless hours walking in the dark when it comes to research I now can turn on the light and go directly to the resources that will help me most.
  2. Knowing the layout of the library. I now know where to find certain resources instead of aimlessly wandering the aisles of the library.
  3. The research experts at the library help provide pointed direction to both general and obscure questions. Instead of helplessly searching Google to find a resource or how to do a specific search I can just ask them.
  4. Introduction to Zotero. If you’re not using Zotero or some other bibliography reference software, well, I just feel bad for you.[1]

With this being said, the library is offering several workshops to help your time at seminary. So if at the end of the semester you are drowning in the peripherals (footnotes, citations, resources, etc) of actually writing the paper that is due in a week you will be editing and reviewing your writing, which will in turn result in a better paper and a higher grade.

Workshops Offered in Fall 2014

Helpful Links

  • SBTS Manual of Style – A link to the latest style guide. This has recently had a makeover. It is much easier to read and find what you are looking for. They have also included templates for Microsoft Word, OpenOffice.org, and Mellel.[2]
  • Lib Guides – Put together by the research experts at the library this provides helpful resources for all areas of theological study (OT Exegesis, NT Greek Exegesis, OT Resources, Commentary Survey, Systematic Theology, etc..)
  • Research Help – Allows you to quickly contact someone in the library to ask a question via a text message or email.

  1. Check out Ryan Vasut’s (assistant librarian) excellent post on getting started with Zotero (Link)  ↩

  2. If you are unsure about how to use templates be sure to check out their helpful videos too.  ↩

Vocabulary Helps (Greek, Latin, and Hebrew)

Over the years I have compiled a number of vocabulary cards on Quizlet. I am currently trying to memorize all Greek words in the GNT down to 10x. I was thankful to realize that I had already made vocabulary cards using Trenchard’s The Complete Vocabulary Guide to the Greek New Testament. I thought I would highlight some of the sets I have created and some other useful apps to assist in vocabulary memorization. Personally, I use Quizlet to create the flashcards and then sync it with Flashcards Deluxe, which I have found to be the best flashcard app out there.

My Quizlet Sets

  • Vocabulary from 50 to 10 times in the GNT using Trenchard. I tried breaking down each category so there are no more than roughly 40 words in each set. Link
  • All Patristic Latin vocabulary words taking from John Collins’s Ecclesiastical Latin GrammarThese are broken down for each unit. Link
  • All Hebrew vocabulary words taken from Allen Ross’s Introducing Biblical Hebrew and Grammar. Note, due to the nature of the class I took the first half of the vocal is taken from the 1st edition. Link
  • Vocabulary in the book of James occurring 32 times or less. There are three different groupings: 1) the whole book of James 2) by chapter 3) by paragraph. Also see this blog post. Link

FlashGreek

Danny Zacharias has created a wonderful app (and others!) for memorizing vocabulary called FlashGreek

Old Testament Hebrew Vocabulary Cards

This nice little app covers a number of grammars such as 

  •  Basics of Biblical Hebrew, by Gary D. Pratico & Miles V. Van Pelt
  •  Introducing Biblical Hebrew, Allen P. Ross
  •  Beginning Biblical Hebrew, Mark David Futato
  •  A Modern Grammar for Biblical Hebrew, Duane A. Garrett and Jason S. DeRouchie
  •  A Grammar for Biblical Hebrew, C. L. Seow
  •  Invitation to Biblical Hebrew, Russell Fuller and Kyoungwon Choi

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Logos Bible Software

Cliff Kvidahl highlights how you can use an app from Logos Bible Software to create vocabulary cards.

New: Linked Posts

One of the types of posts I will begin to do more of is called a “linked post.” I’ve noticed that some bibliobloggers do some type of iteration of this before but there doesn’t seem to be a consistent way of presenting them in our world[1]. In the tech blogging community linked posts are a dime a dozen.

Why create linked posts? The reason is two-fold:

  1. I find them helpful for finding new content, highlighting what a post is about, and is it worth my time to read the article.
  2. A lot of great content out in the infinite mass of blogs gets sucked away just because people don’t know it is there.

My goal in posting linked post is to get out of the way of the article in focus and highlight what I like/found important and take you to the article for further reading.

You will instantly be able to tell what separates a linked post from my original content with a ∞ before the title of the post. This means that the clicking the title of the post will take you to the article I am recommending. Having the ∞ at the beginning of the title allows you to know the type of post before you even click on the link via social media to my website. At the bottom of the post there will be another link to the article.

I hope folks find this helpful and it points you to great biblical studies/theology content on the web that goes unnoticed.

Here is an example of a recent linked post: ∞ On Reading Primary Sources

For an in-depth look the history and various types of linked posts check out Shawn Blanc’s article: The Link Post


  1. One way bloggers do this is by posting the “Top 5” or some equivalent at the end of the week of relevant posts. While this is helpful I don’t want the “pressure” of having to have a post ready at a particular time every week.  ↩

New Website Design and Expanded Focus

If you are reading this right now you can probably see that I have changed the layout and design of the website. I also went back to my original site name and domain but you can still access the site by using the www.ntexegesis.com url too.

A couple factors prompted the new design and domain change. First, Squarespace came out with a new feature recently that allows me to show blog posts in a more aesthetically pleasing way.

Second, I think this new design compliments the new blog post page better. Along with the new design I also want to slightly expand the focus of my site. Previously, my stated “thesis” of the site strictly focus on biblical studies (exegesis, history of interpretation, book reviews, etc.). I have slowly been expanding this too also include the intersection of technology and academics. I recently wrote a series entitled Evernote for Academicswhich was the biggest departure from a strictly biblical studies focus. I am interested in how we can make technology better work for us in our academic studies and I would like to write on this topic more. So I will still be writing in the realm of biblical studies but I will also be expanding my writing to another area of interest, technology. Any writing that I do on technology will have some type of tie in with academics, specifically in the area of theology and biblical studies.

So I encourage you to look around the site to examine the new design. If you are ever wondering how to do something with technology in your studies please feel free to contact my by Twitter, email, or comments on this site.

Logos Free Book of the Month: Spirituality of the Psalms by Walter Brueggemann

The free book of the month from Logos looks like a good one. I was encouraged after reading a couple paragraphs of the first chapter. In our community group we are going through some of the Psalms so I will be reading through some of this as we discuss throughout the summer. Check out the opening paragraphs and be encouraged.

The Book of Psalms provides the most reliable theological, pastoral, and liturgical resource given us in the biblical tradition. In season and out of season, generation after generation, faithful women and men turn to the Psalms as a most helpful resource for conversation with God about things that matter most. The Psalms are helpful because they are a genuinely dialogical literature that expresses both sides of the conversation of faith. On the one hand, Israel’s faithful speech addressed to God is the substance of the Psalms. The Psalms do this so fully and so well because they articulate the entire gamut of Israel’s speech to God, from profound praise to the utterance of unspeakable anger and doubt. On the other hand, as Martin Luther understood so passionately, the Psalms are not only addressed to God. They are a voice of the gospel, God’s good word addressed to God’s faithful people. In this literature the community of faith has heard and continues to hear the sovereign speech of God, who meets the community in its depths of need and in its heights of celebration. The Psalms draw our entire life under the rule of God, where everything may be submitted to the God of the gospel.

Psalm interpretation is at the present time beset by a curious reality. There is a devotional tradition of piety that finds the Psalms acutely attuned to the needs and possibilities of profound faith. (To be sure, some of that devotional literature is less than profound.) This tradition of Psalm usage tends to be precritical, and is relatively uncomplicated by any scholarly claims. There is also a well-established scholarly tradition of interpretation with a rather stable consensus. This tradition of interpretation tends to be critical, working beyond the naïveté of the devotional tradition, but sometimes being more erudite than insightful. These two traditions of interpretation proceed without much knowledge of, attention to, or impact on the other. The devotional tradition of piety is surely weakened by disregarding the perspectives and insights of scholarship. Conversely, the scholarly tradition of interpretation is frequently arid, because it lingers excessively on formal questions, with inability or reluctance to bring its insights and methods to substantive matters of exposition. This cleavage, of course, must not be overstated, for there are some contacts and overlaps among interpreters, but that contact is limited, modest, and too restrained.

What seems to be needed (and is here attempted) is a postcritical interpretation that lets the devotional and scholarly traditions support, inform, and correct each other, so that the formal gains of scholarly methods may enhance and strengthen, as well as criticize, the substance of genuine piety in its handling of the Psalms.

Brueggemann, Walter. Spirituality of the Psalms. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2002.

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Summer Reading List from the SBTS Library

The library at Southern Seminary has put together a helpful “summer reading list” that is broken down into several categories:

  1. Old Testament/Biblical Students (Brian Davidson)
  2. New Testament/Interpretation (Ryan Vasut)
  3. New Testament II (Michael Graham)
  4. Theology (Kevin Hall)
  5. Early Christian Literature (Shawn Wilhite)
  6. Evangelism (Jeff Strickland)
  7. Church History (Ivan Mesa)
  8. Worship (Chris Wells)
  9. Fiction (Ivan Mesa)
  10. Fiction II (Ryan Vasut)

Regarding the list they say:

As you consider these titles, there are a few things to note. None of these lists are created for particular classes, nor will you receive any consolation prize for reading them all. Also, these are not ‘top 10’ lists or in a particular order. Finally, no list necessarily reflects the doctrinal stance of Southern Seminary or the person who submitted it. These are merely works we have found to be intellectually stimulating for academic and personal growth.

Download the PDF of the list.

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C.F.D. Moule on F.F. Bruce

It is quite easy to become puffed up with knowledge and thinking we have all the right answers. This is especially the case when we have been working on a particular project and we think we are right. All to often our personal desire to be right trumps the desire to getting it right.[1] When someone challenges us or disagrees with our views the easy road is to lash out and to prove ourselves. This “lashing out” is not necessarily a mean spirited use of the tongue but can come across in a charitable tone yet pierces the heart of those who disagree. After reading C.F.D. Moule’s tribute to F.F. Bruce in the beginning of a collection of essays presented to the esteemed scholar on his 70th birthday I am grateful to realize that Bruce was a scholar that held his convictions but also treated those who disagreed with him in a charitable manner. I only hope that at the end of my career someone will be able to say similar words about my character that Moule said of Bruce.

C.F.D. Moule to F.F. Bruce:

To think of Fred Bruce is to be assured that the Psalmist’s vision can come true:

Mercy and truth are met together:
Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

I know no better example of uncompromising truthfulness wedded to that most excellent gift of charity: Fred Bruce always speaks the truth in love. Certainly the truth: he is one of the rare souls who actually do verify their references: what he says can be relied on to be correctnot that he needs to do much verification, for he is blessed with an exceptionally tenacious memory. On the granite rock of a thorough classical education (Gold Medallist in Latin and Greek at Aberdeen, senior classic of his year at Cambridge) he has built a formidable edifice of extensive and accurate learning and kept it all in good shape, from the mellow Falernian wine in the cellar to the-but no, there is no hot air or smoke escaping from the chimney. Yet, instead of the scornful condescension that this easy superiority might engender, he is conspicuously courteous and considerate; and it is not a little because of his kindly wisdom (a greater gift even than learning) that the Faculty of Theology at Manchester, like the Department at Sheffield before that, has been held together so amicably. It is no secret that the late Professor S.G.F. Brandon held and published views about Christian origins with which F.F.B. was in radical disagreement. Yet such was their friendship and mutual respect that Brandon made one of the speeches at Bruce’s sixtieth birthday celebration, and Bruce was asked, and readily agreed, to say words of appreciation at Brandon’s Memorial Service in Manchester Cathedral. It is the same essential loyalty on the deepest personal level that has kept him a faithful member of the Brethren, without the lowering of his rigorous academic standards. It is a loyalty shared, too, by his wife in their long and happy partnership. Beneath a rather rugged exterior, Fred conceals a ready wit. A colleague tells how Professor Cordon Rupp, then at Manchester, came to a Faculty meeting straight from attending ‘Vatican 11’ as an observer, and sat down next to F.F. Bruce, dumping a large attache case on the table in front of him. ‘Here comes Cordon’, was the instant comment, ‘bearing with him a parcel of pardons from the Pope’. It is all there and always ready-this vast stock of witty comment and information, from hilarious anecdotes, through exact knowledge of University regulations, to etymological learning (such as the origins of the word ‘levirate’ in Latin and Homeric Greek): apt, accurate, circumstantial, complete. It was an illustrious succession in which Bruce found himself on his election to the Rylands Chair: A. S. Peake, C. H. Dodd, T. W. Manson. It is no mean achievement to have added lustre to such a tradition. I need not recite the long list of his publications or his cursus vitae: others are supplying these. But I gratefully seize this opportunity, as one who has himself experienced the warmth of his loyal friendship, to add this more general little tribute and to join in a gesture which (to borrow words from one of Fred’s favourite authors) ‘overflows in a flood of thanksgiving to God’ (2 Cor. 9:12, N.E.B.).

From Pauline Studies: Essays Presented to Professor F. F. Bruce on His 70th Birthday ed. Donald A. Hagner pgs. xvii-xix


  1. I am grateful to Dr. Runge for this thought. He not only brought this to my attention but also embodies this way of scholarship.  ↩

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Free Access to the Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception

De Gruyter is currently offering a free trial (30 days) to their excellent Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception. 

Description from the website:

The Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception (EBR) pursues a twofold task. Firstly, it comprehensively renders the current state of knowledge on the origins and development of the Bible according to its different canonic forms in Judaism and Christianity. Secondly, it documents the history of the Bible’s reception, not only in the Christian churches and the Jewish Diaspo- ra, but also in literature, art, music, and film, as well as Islam and other reli- gious traditions and current religious movements.

With this broad program of reception history, EBR moves into new terrain, seeking to do justice to the fact that the biblical texts not only have their own particular genetic background and setting but also have been received and interpreted, and exerted their influence, in countless and diverse religious, theological, and aesthetic settings. EBR will shape scholarship on the Bible and its reception.
EBR is a resource tool for scholars in biblical studies and related fields but also accessible to general readers interested in the Bible. It is edited by an international team of scholars, all experts in their fields.

With the help of a comprehensive search engine the online edition of the EBR makes the articles fully searchable.

HT: Jessica Parks

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Martyrdom of Polycarp Reading Group

 

Update: You can find the syllabus of this course here

Last year, the SBTS Library with the leadership and organization of Shawn Wilhite hosted a Greek reading group that read through the Didache. This was a exciting time to both read through Apostolic Fathers primary literature but also to discuss and think through the text with other students.

Thankfully, Shawn put together another reading group that will be going through the Martyrdom of Polycarp. This is a four-week class that will read through this The Martyrdom of Polycarp and an impressive group of scholars to give short lectures on the Martydom of Polycarp and martyrdom in general.

June 3Dr. Paul Hartog, “The Martyrdom of Polycarp as Communal Moral Formation”

June 10Dr. Jarvis Williams, “Comparison and Contrast of 2 and 4 Maccabees with Ignatius Martyrdom Accounts”

 June 17Shawn Wilhite, “The Martyrdom of Polycarp as Imitatio Christi

 June 24Dr. Michael Haykin, “Candida Moss’ Reading of The Martyrdom of Polycarp”

 

If you stop by the library you can pick up a copy of the text that includes footnotes with vocabulary help. I encourage you to sign up. It will be an enriching time of both fellowship with other students and also a great opportunity to learn more about this text.

When: 10:00 – 11:30 am; June 3, 10, 17, 24 (Tuesday)

Where: Lower-Level Floor in the James P. Boyce Centennial Library

Email Shawn to sign up (swilhite@sbts.edu)

Course Syllabus

PDF with details of the reading group

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