Friday, December 26, 2014

Online course: Slavery as Moral Problem in the Bible

This spring we will be launching our first Ancient Bookshelf online course.  This will be an experiment in creating interactive online learning environments for ordinary people who are curious about digging deeper into the study of religion and ancient literature.

The first course, which will be launched in March, is called Slavery as Moral Problem in the Bible.  It is based on a study guide I created earlier this year and uses Jennifer Glancy's Slavery as Moral Problem in the Early Church and Today as its primary textbook.

If you're interested in learning more, check out the full description here.

Screenshots of the class page can be seen here.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Creon and Antigone Reference in "After Auschwitz"

It's interesting to me to note and collect references to ancient Greek literature in modern religious works.  Whie reading Richard Rubenstein's After Auschwitz I came across the following reference to Sophocles' Antigone:

"Tragic encounters can lead either to murder or to moral modesty and mutual enrichment.  The problem has ultimately little to do with the question of Jewish safety.  Creon was hardly better off with Antigone dead than confronted with the terribly annoying presence of Antigone alive.  The murderer does something to himself as well as to his victim.  In some respects, his is the greater problem, for, unlike his victim, he must live with himself after the deed.  Creon and Antigone were driven by forces of which they were in no sense the masters.  The forces and loyalties constituent of Jewish and Christian identities respectively can be little altered by either Jew or Christian.  There is the possibility that, with awareness into the explosive potentialities of our religious ideologies, we will be able to moderate their destructiveness.  Above all, I want to emphasize that at this point in history the conflict is beyond blame.  Neither Christian nor Jew can avoid or deny the religious traditions out of which he has come.  In some very important respects, we are heirs to conflicts we did not create but which we cannot with dignity or honor entirely avoid."
(Richard L. Rubenstein, After Auschwitz: Radical Theology and Contemporary Judaism [1966], 63-64).

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Ge'ez (Classical Ethiopic) Video Resources

I just discovered two videos that Endangered Language Alliance Toronto uploaded last year on the Ge'ez language (classical Ethiopic).

The first one, Ge'ez conversation, has a nine minute conversation between M.H. Haregewoin and Fisseha Tadesse in Ge'ez!  It includes subtitles in Ge'ez and English translation.  This is a great resource if you want to learn how Ge'ez is pronounced.

The second one, Ge'ez: Life of a Dead Language, is a seven minute documentary with Fisseha Tadesse on the Ge'ez language.  It includes some readings of Ge'ez, and some discussion of how the language continues to be studied and live on as a liturgical and literary language.

These are two really fantastic resources.  If you have interest in learning more about Ge'ez, feel free to check out my resource page.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Ethiopic Jubilees Reading Guide: The Aqedah, 17:15-18:16

I've uploaded another Ethiopic Jubilees reading guide based on my concordance data.  This one lists all of the vocabulary for Jubilees' version of the Aqedah, the near-sacrifice of Isaac.  I haven't included any grammatical or syntactical notes on this one -- I may create some separate documents/resources with those later on.

Jubilees 17:15-18:16 offers a fascinating take on the famous story from Genesis 22, which includes a Job-esque challenge from Prince Mastema (a Satan figure) and the early Jewish tradition that Abraham underwent (and passed) a series of divine tests.  You can access the vocabulary guide here.  Also feel free to check out the previous reading guide for Jub. 11:1-10.

Happy translating!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Getting Wrapped up in the Story: A Molasses Slow Reading of the Text

There are a lot of ways to read a text.  Over the last two weeks I have been concording (making a concordance -- if "concording" wasn't a verb before, it is now) a portion of Ethiopic Jubilees.  This work involves going through the Ge'ez word by word, prefixed preposition and conjunction by prefixed preposition and conjunction.  While the work should probably be dull and laborious, it's actually been pretty enjoyable.  Part of the enjoyment comes from the fact that Ge'ez is fun (according to one out of one bloggers surveyed), and from the many cool little things one generally discovers when peering behind the English veil to see the original, or in this case versional language of an ancient text.  But I've also found myself enjoying the narrative more.  In particular, I've found myself more emotionally wrapped up in the story.  That's right, it turns out concording is an oddly emotional experience.

I've worked through chapters 11-20, from the beginnings of Abram's life up to the point where he starts talking about the possibility of his death (21:1).  This means I've covered a lot of narrative time (Abe is now 175 years old).  But as is characteristic of much Israelite and early Jewish narrative, that 175 years has taken very little discourse time.  A lot of time in the story world has been condensed into 10 chapters and 250ish verses.  When there's such a disparity between narrative time and discourse time we do not always have the opportunity to become emotionally wrapped up in a story and its characters.  We read about a character's birth and then, after twenty minutes of reading, we read about their death.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Ethiopic Jubilees Reading Guide: 11:1-10/The Rise of Civilization

Reading Guide
I've been working on a project involving Ethiopic Jubilees and thought I'd make a little of the data available for those who are learning Ge'ez.  I've put together a little reading guide for Jub. 11:1-10, that exciting bit of the book that talks about the beginnings of civilization after the flood.  It turns out that it didn't take long for humans to start killing, enslaving, and oppressing each other.  The reading guide has a list of all of the Ge'ez vocabulary for this section, as well as English glosses and the page reference for the appropriate entry in Leslau's concise lexicon.  I also included a few bullet points that point you to parts of Lambdin or Leslau that will help in translating the text.

You can access the reading guide here.

Happy translating!