Monday, 30 November 2015

NNJCI excursion/seminar to Ethiopia

The Church of Ethiopia in Antiquity and the Middle Ages – Jewish traditions, Islamic context and indigenous developments

The Nordic Network for the Study of Judaism, Christianity and Islam in the First Millennium (NNJCI) is proud to present its new seminar on Ethiopian Christianity and its contacts with Jewish and Islamic traditions. This is a unique opportunity to visit Ethiopia, its several awe-inspiring places (such as the stone hewn churches in Lalibela, the ancient Aksum and several monasteries) in the guidance of both local and Nordic experts.
The duration of the seminar is two weeks (October 23 to November 6, 2016). It will include preparatory readings and short presentations of each participants which equals 5 ECTS. The seminar is primarily intended for PhD-students, but it will also be open for advanced master’s students and postdoctoral researchers. 
The preliminary program and more information can be found on the NNJCI website
At the moment, the price of the seminar which reflects the actual costs of the trip, is about $ 2500 plus the flights to Ethiopia and back. The price is likely to go down. We have applied for funding but the result is still pending.
To keep track of updated information about the course, please join NNJCI Facebook group at
The application period will be in March 1 - April 30, 2015 (the final price will be announced before that). You can express your initial interest in the trip and direct further question to Outi Lehtipuu (

Friday, 27 November 2015

The hyperconnected super busy academic overkill

I am sure you have seen them: the posts in the news feeds of various social media from colleagues telling you that they have three articles to write this week, two papers to finish on the plane to the conference venue, and six time zones to cross twice this fortnight. In between tons of mails, service, teaching, and grading. You may even have received such a message from me.
On the one hand, the contents of these posts may probably refer to real situations. Many of the posts are intentionally witty, others may reflect a desperate need to share the craziness of the situation. Either way, we should take these signs of academic overload seriously on the systemic and institutional level. On the other hand, these posts also make up a new sharing practice in social media. They constitute a genre of academic hyperconnected, super busy overkill. It is this genre of interaction I am addressing in this post. I think we should reflect, just briefly, on what this particular form of online sharing culture may create and reinforce.
First, and, importantly, the job of those of us who are working at academic institutions is to acquire, create, reshape, and share knowledge of various sorts. Think about it. When we present this process of “knowledge production” (yes, I hate that metaphor too) in terms of rush, jet set, and fast food, what are we really doing? I fear that we are systematically reducing the value and trustworthiness of our own work. We sanction a practice of publishing articles that would have benefitted from another round of revision and we applaud the unfortunate fact that most large conferences have their fair share of crappy papers crafted on board an Easyjet carrier the night before. I am also afraid that we are affecting our own image as academics – what are we if we are so intensely jetlagged and stressed all the time that we are unable to think long thoughts?
Second, when we share how busy we are, how much we travel, and how much we can accomplish in a very short time we create a certain type of online academic persona. This form of sharing has become a way of marketing and branding ourselves as sought after, successful scholars. However, it also means that we enter a kind of contest with winners and losers. Seemingly, the losers are those who cannot keep up, the winners are those who continue to run until they drop (paraphrasing Tyra Banks, “Congratulations, you are still in the running to become America’s next top scholar”). This practice, and the instant gratification created by likes and affirmations may easily become a stress spiral both for ourselves and our colleagues. And remember, the game is no longer restricted to conferences and other traditional offline meeting places, it is constant and at your fingertips.
Third, this online practice may also – unintentionally – serve as a legitimation for academic institutions to continue filling up our schedules. After all, we sanction that hyper-stress and über-performance is part of the game. We end up reinforcing the system.
Dear hardworking and hyperconnected colleagues in the academy. I have a suggestion for you, for me (!), and for all of us: let us stop tweeting, posting, and sharing how extremely busy we are. Not because it is not true - I suspect we are busier than ever.  Not that I do not see the intense need to share – it means survival to many. However, I think we should pause and reflect, in between all those other things we have to do today, on what this particular genre of online sharing is doing for us.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

JSP December issue - What is an Old Testament Pseudepigraphon?

The December issue of The Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha is just out. My review article of the 2013 volume Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: More Noncanonical Scriptures (eds. R. Bauckham, J.R. Davila and A. Panayotov) (here) is part of it. You find my article here.

The review essay was first presented at a session at the 2013 SBL Annual Meeting. An early version of it has been available on for a while. The essay published in JSP is a longer, revised version, including discussions of two entries/two dilemmas (not one as in the original paper version).

"Text - Work - Manuscript: What is an Old Testament Pseudepigraphon?"

The 2013 volume Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: More Noncanonical Scriptures, edited by Richard Bauckham, James R. Davila and Alexander Panayotov, is a highly important contribution to the field of Pseudepigrapha studies, making previously unpublished material available for further study. This review essay discusses the editorial strategies that have shaped the volume, focusing in particular on the representation of its basic building block, the pseudepigraphon. Exploring two entries in the volume, ‘The Book of Noah’ and ‘The Story of Melchizedek with the Melchizedek Legend and the Chronicon Paschale’, this article demonstrates how privileging the early ‘work’ as the default mode of representation creates imaginations of Pseudepigrapha that may not match the manuscript sources that have in fact survived.

Some absolutely shameless self promotion: my article was the most read article of the JSP in December 2015.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

SBL Annual Meeting 2015

I'm off to Atlanta to attend the SBL Annual Meeting.

I am giving two papers this year. The first paper is entitled "Do Paratexts Matter? Transmission, Re-identification, and New Philology" and, the second "Digitization and Manuscripts as Visual Objects: Reflections from a Media Studies Perspective" (More information below and abstracts here).

If you want to meet me in Atlanta, you'll find me in the crowd at the Nordic Universities Reception (Sunday 22 November, 7:00-9:00 pm, at the Marriott Marquis C) from 7:00 to 8:00 pm.


Book History and Biblical Literatures
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: M102 (Marquis Level) - Marriott
Theme: Paratexts
Eva Mroczek, University of California-Davis, Presiding
Liv I. Lied, Det Teologiske Menighetsfakultet
Do Paratexts Matter? Transmission, Re-Identification, and New Philology (20 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Francis Borchardt, Lutheran Theological Seminary, Hong Kong
The Prologue to Sirach and the "Book" of Sirach in a Chain of Text Traditions (20 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Eric Scherbenske, Independent Scholar
“In Other Copies”: Transmitting and Negotiating Textual Variation on the Margins (20 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Gregory Fewster, University of Toronto
From Paul's Letter Collection to the Euthalian Apparatus: An Archival Perspective on Pauline Paratexts (20 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Malcolm Choat, Macquarie University
Text and Paratext in Documentary Papyri from Roman Egypt (20 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Discussion (25 min)


Digital Humanities in Biblical, Early Jewish, and Christian Studies
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: L404 (Lobby Level) - Marriott
Theme: Data Visualization, Digital Paleography and Images
David Hamidovic, Université de Lausanne, Presiding
Liv Ingeborg Lied, Det Teologiske Menighetsfakultet
Digitization and Manuscripts as Visual Objects: Reflections from a Media Studies Perspective (30 min)
Heather Dana Davis Parker, Johns Hopkins University and Christopher A. Rollston, George Washington University
Teaching Epigraphy in the 21st Century: The Epigraphic Digital Lab (30 min)
Peter M. Phillips, University of Durham
Is "Millennial Christianity" Changing the Public Face of the Bible through Online Searching and Social Media Messaging (30 min)
Drayton C. Benner, University of Chicago
A Novel Visualization of Biblical Texts Aligned at the Word-Level (30 min)
Joshua L. Mann, University of Durham
(Re)Presenting Biblical Texts Online: Luke 19 as Test Case (30 min)

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Pseudepigrapha Sunday

The SBL Annual Meeting is less than a week away and next Sunday (22 November) is "Pseudepigrapha Sunday". The Pseudepigrapha Section marathon starts at 9:00 am with the traditional Open Session, continues at 1:00 pm with a session on Pseudepigrapha and Method, and finally, at 4:00 pm, in cooperation with the Hellenistic Judaism Section we host a review session dedicated to Ben Wright's new commentary on the Letter of Aristeas.

Come join us!


9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: L404 (Lobby Level) - Marriott
John Levison, Southern Methodist University, Presiding
Katell Berthelot, CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research)
A New Perspective on the Kinship between Jews and Spartans in 1 and 2 Maccabees: The Issue of Ancestral Territory (30 min)
Veronika Hirschberger, University of Regensburg
Jeremiah 7 and 5 Ezra — An Underrated Connection? (30 min)
Jackie Wyse-Rhodes, Emory University
The Natural World as Sign in Early Jewish Apocalyptic Literature (30 min)
Ryan E. Stokes, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Reading the Book of Watchers on the Origin of Evil (30 min)
John W. Fadden, Saint John Fisher College
God, the Lord, and Angels in the Sahidic Testament of Isaac (30 min)


1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: M101 (Marquis Level) - Marriott
Theme: Pseudepigrapha and MethodRandall Chesnutt, Pepperdine University, Presiding
Uta Heil, Universität Wien
A Mixture of Error and Purpose: Pseudepigrapha among the Writings of the Church Fathers (25 min)
Nicholas A. Elder, Marquette University
On Transcription and Oral Transmission in Aseneth: A Study of the Narrative’s Conception (25 min)
Gavin McDowell, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes
A New Perspective on the Pseudepigrapha: The “Matter of Israel” (25 min)
Benjamin Wright III, Lehigh University
Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, the Scrolls, and Early Judaism as a Scholarly Category (25 min)
Eva Mroczek, Indiana University (Bloomington)
How the Forger Became an Exegete: Value Judgments and Publishing the Pseudepigrapha (25 min)
Matthias Henze, Rice University
How Do the Pseudepigrapha Change the Way We Read Early Jewish Literature? (25 min)


Hellenistic Judaism; Pseudepigrapha
Joint Session With: Hellenistic Judaism, Pseudepigrapha
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: 404 (Level 4) - Hilton
Theme: The Letter of Aristeas and Its Interpretation
We will pay particular attention to the new commentary on the Letter of Aristeas by Benjamin Wright (CEJL 2015).René Bloch, Universität Bern - Université de Berne, Presiding
Francis Borchardt, Lutheran Theological Seminary, Hong Kong, Panelist (25 min)
Sylvie Honigman, Tel Aviv University, Panelist (25 min)
Timothy Michael Law, Panelist (25 min)
Maren Niehoff, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Panelist (25 min)
Benjamin Wright, Lehigh University, Respondent (30 min)
Discussion (20 min)