Productivity assessment

Photograph of Michael HyattMichael Hyatt has a free productivity assessment tool that provides “a free analysis of your overall [personal productivity] score and a breakdown of the productivity areas you evaluated.”

A followup email provides a short set of tips for improving, and the analysis page that displays after the survey is completed provides access to sign up for a free webinar on the “7 deadly sins of productivity.” I attended the webinar recently, and it does provide a good number of suggestions revolving around focus as a primary key to productivity.

The webinar then offers attendees the opportunity to sign up for a paid productivity course with still further content. But, the free elements contain a good amount of helpful information themselves.

(Re)amplifying the Amplified Bible

Amplified Bible imageAt LogosTalk, Mark Ward has a helpful discussion of “how to use—and not to use—the Amplified Bible” for English-only Bible readers.  Mark comments, in part:

The Amplified, when used according to its stated design, invites readers to deny this interpretive truism. It makes them think, “Ah, now I know what the Greek word here really means”—and then to Choose Their Own Adventure, picking the meaning they like most.

On the other hand, Mark suggests a more helpful approach to the Amplified Bible would be to understand it as

essentially … is a study Bible with very brief notes that are brought from the margins of the page into the text.

The “Choose Your Own Adventure” comparison seems especially appropriate to the way I’ve often heard the Amplified Bible used also, and Mark’s suggested alternative approach is particularly salutary too. For the balance of Mark’s lively discussion, see the LogosTalk blog.

The chemistry of studying the Dead Sea Scrolls

This Decoded Science article has an interesting treatment of some of the chemical elements of the study of the Dead Sea Scrolls, particularly the Copper Scroll. The article’s conclusion provides the reminder that

Archaeology allows us to look into the past. However, in order for scientists to properly examine and maintain artifacts, it’s necessary to preserve them. In many cases, chemistry makes that possible.

For the full article, see Decoded Science. HT: Jim Davila.

Digital notekeeping

Michael Hyatt has a good discussion of digital notekeeping tools, a.k.a. “Evernote alternatives.” As even the nomenclature might suggest, Michael opts for Evernote.

I used Evernote for quite some time too but transitioned several months back to OneNote. I haven’t ever gotten particularly sold on Apple devices, so Apple-only alternatives were out by default.

While I enjoyed Evernote, their limiting their “Free” plan to sync with two devices was the main impetus for me to look for a change. Microsoft OneNote iconI already had OneNote at the Office and via an Office 365 University subscription at home. Plus, OneNote has both iOS and Android apps, as well as a web version, so it was a logical option.

(N.B.: Windows 10 comes by default with the OneNote app installed in a lighter version. But, that version doesn’t seem to allow files to be attached to notes, edited, and resaved immediately in the same note. The file has to be saved elsewhere and then moved back into the note, a workaround about which I wasn’t particularly crazy.)

Over the years, I’d accumulated quite a lot of data in Evernote. So, I was glad to see Microsoft’s Evernote to OneNote importer. Michael’s experience with importing notes was “a complete and utter mess,” but for me, things actually went quite smoothly.

OneNote has also gotten supported by a fairly convenient web clipper. Evernote’s web clipper might be slightly nicer in the abstract, but OneNote’s is definitely close behind. As with Evernote, OneNote also allows for emailing notes into a notebook.

Borrowing a page from the Franklin-Covey book, I’ve taken to setting up my OneNote notebooks in one tab per month. Then, I create a blank page numbered with the date out of that month and use the “subpage” feature to organize notes for that day underneath that main note. Tabs for months other than last month, this month, and next month get moved into an archival notebook for the year.

Very large OneNote notebooks do sometimes seem to have issues syncing to mobile devices. But, in the main, my experience with OneNote has been quite pleasant. It doesn’t have the tagging features that Evernote does, but OneNote’s search function has generally been quite sufficient so that I haven’t found myself wishing for greater tagging functionality. So, if you’ve been looking for a digital notekeeping tool and haven’t yet given OneNote a test run, you may want to give it a try.

In the (e)mail: Nanos and Zetterholm, “Paul within Judaism”

In addition to the Boccacci and Segovia and Rodríguez and Thiessen volumes, Fortress Press has kindly, if accidentally, passed along a review copy of Mark Nanos and Magnus Zetterholm’s edited volume Paul within Judaism: Restoring the First-century Context to the Apostle (2015). According to the book’s blurb:

In these chapters, a group of renowned international scholars seek to describe Paul and his work from “within Judaism,” rather than on the assumption, still current after thirty years of the “New Perspective,” that in practice Paul left behind aspects of Jewish living after his discovery of Jesus as Christ (Messiah). After an introduction that surveys recent study of Paul and highlights the centrality of questions about Paul’s Judaism, chapters explore the implications of reading Paul’s instructions as aimed at Christ-following non-Jews, teaching them how to live in ways consistent with Judaism while remaining non-Jews. The contributors take different methodological points of departure: historical, ideological-critical, gender-critical, and empire-critical, and examine issues of terminology and of interfaith relations. Surprising common ground among the contributors presents a coherent alternative to the “New Perspective.” The volume concludes with a critical evaluation of the Paul within Judaism perspective by Terence L. Donaldson, a well-known voice representative of the best insights of the New Perspective.

Apparently, the message with this title attached was intended for a different reviewer. But, since I hadn’t yet gotten a copy of this text, I was most grateful to have one, and Fortress was amenable to my keeping the copy in exchange for mentioning it here.

In the (e)mail: Rodríguez and Thiessen, “The So-called Jew”

In addition to Boccaccini and Segovia’s Paul the Jew, inbox recently saw the arrival from Fortress Press of a review copy of Rafael Rodríguez and Matthew Thiessen’s edited volume The So-Called Jew in Paul’s Letter to the Romans (2016). According to the book’s blurb:

Decades ago, Werner G. Kümmel described the historical problem of Romans as its “double character”: concerned with issues of Torah and the destiny of Israel, the letter is explicitly addressed not to Jews but to Gentiles. At stake in the numerous answers given to that question is nothing less than the purpose of Paul’s most important letter. In The So-Called Jew in Paul’s Letter to the Romans, nine Pauline scholars focus their attention on the rhetoric of diatribe and characterization in the opening chapters of the letter, asking what Paul means by the “so-called Jew” in Romans 2 and where else in the letter’s argumentation that figure appears or is implied. Each component of Paul’s argument is closely examined with particular attention to the theological problems that arise in each.

I’m looking forward to working through the text and reviewing it for the Stone-Campbell Journal.

I recently also had the privilege of reviewing Rafael’s prior If You Call Yourself a Jew: Reappraising Paul’s Letter to the Romans (Wipf & Stock, 2014). I very much appreciate the argument that Rafael brings out in that volume. Rafael has very kindly received the review, though he rightly notes some lingering questions that tend to make me lean in a bit different direction. But, I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what in the new Fortress volume may speak to those or other related matters. As H.-G. Gadamer reflects,

We say we “conduct” a conversation, but the more genuine a conversation is, the less its conduct lies within the will of either partner. Thus a genuine conversation is never the one that we wanted to conduct. Rather, it is generally more correct to say that we fall into conversation, or even that we become involved in it. The way one word follows another, with the conversation taking its own twists and reaching its own conclusion, may well be conducted in some way, but the partners conversing are far less leaders of it than the led. (Truth and Method, 401; underlining added)

In the (e)mail: Boccaccini and Segovia, “Paul the Jew”

Boccaccini and Segovia, "Paul the Jew" coverIn my email recently, I found Fortress Press had kindly provided a review copy of Gabriele Boccaccini and Carlos Segovia’s edited volume Paul the Jew: Rereading the Apostle as a Figure of Second Temple Judaism (2016). According to the book’s blurb:

The decades-long effort to understand the apostle Paul within his Jewish context is now firmly established in scholarship on early Judaism, as well as on Paul. The latest fruit of sustained analysis appears in the essays gathered here, from leading international scholars who take account of the latest investigations into the scope and variety present in Second Temple Judaism. Contributors address broad historical and theological questions—Paul’s thought and practice in relationship with early Jewish apocalypticism, messianism, attitudes toward life under the Roman Empire, appeal to Scripture, the Law, inclusion of Gentiles, the nature of salvation, and the rise of Gentile-Christian supersessionism—as well as questions about interpretation itself, including the extent and direction of a “paradigm shift” in Pauline studies and the evaluation of the Pauline legacy. Paul the Jew goes as far as any effort has gone to restore the apostle to his own historical, cultural, and theological context, and with persuasive results.

I’m looking forward to working through the text and reviewing it for the Stone-Campbell Journal.

Textual criticism in Logos

Recently, the below training video popped up on my Logos Bible Software homepage, illustrating how to use the textual criticism section in the exegetical guide tool. While the software certainly can’t replace expertise in filtering through the relevant data, there are definitely some useful elements here to assist in pulling that data together.