NIV Update Slated for 2011

The widely used New International Version is slated for an update in 2011, its first revision in 25 years. According to the press release:

“As time passes and English changes, the NIV we have at present is becoming increasingly dated. If we want a Bible that English speakers around the world can understand, we have to listen to, and respect, the vocabulary they are using today.” . . . “The new 2011 NIV is all about maintaining and enhancing the original values of the NIV for today’s readers.” . . . “We’re looking for a translation that is above all accurate – that says what the original authors said in the way they would have said it had they been speaking in English to the global English-speaking audience today. We’re looking for a translation that offers clarity – where understanding comes naturally and readers can quickly grasp the original authors’ ideas and the cadence of their language. We’re looking for a translation that is suitable both for in-depth study and for outreach – a translation that Christians can share with their neighbors without hindrance whether they are experienced Bible readers or interested newcomers.

The press release does not detail what revisions can be expected, but the homepage at www.nivbible2011.com features a question and comment form for those who may wish to inquire further before additional details become more widely available.

HT: Zondervan

2009 Carver-Barnes Lectures

This post is somewhat belated, but I have just recently been able to listen to this year’s Carver-Barnes Lectures. On March 25, Ken Myers delivered a lecture on the “Comprehensive Character of Christian Discipleship.” Ken followed on the 26th with a lecture on the “Counter-Cultural Imperative for Christian Disciplers.”

As much as a good many discussions of the relationship(s) between Christianity and culture lack a certain degree of care and nuance, Ken has a number of highly astute insights, not least on issues related to the anthropology of the modern, Western Christian community. In addition, Ken’s irenic disposition in these lectures and in the colloquium that followed made his observations and suggestions all the more engaging.

Alexander’s Effects

Through his vast conquests, Alexander’s comparatively short life left several important marks on history:

  1. Alexander’s conquests effected a substantial influx of Greeks into various areas around the known world, and these Greeks brought their distinctive culture with them (Ferguson 13). To be sure, the Greeks had already established several colonies outside the Balkan Peninsula by this time, but after Alexander’s conquests, the numbers of Greeks living in other lands and degree of their influence with these lands’ native peoples significantly increased (Ferguson 13; Schürer 1:11).
  2. Alexander’s life allowed the culture that the Greek conquerors and settlers had carried with them to take hold more quickly and firmly in foreign soil than it might otherwise have done (Ferguson 14). This increased exposure to Greek culture was especially significant for the peoples of the Near East, including the Jews (Ferguson 14).
  3. Alexander’s campaigns spread Attic-standard currency throughout the known world, and this distribution enhanced economic consistency also increased people’s economic interconnectedness (Ferguson 14; Wright 153).
  4. Although the Greek language was relatively widespread in the fifth century BC, it became vastly more disseminated through Alexander’s conquests (Blass & Debrunner §2; Caragounis 566; Deissmann 58; Ferguson 14; Moule 1; Voelz 912, 931; Wallace 15, 17–18; Wright 153). In turn, this wide dissemination among non-native speakers caused a certain simplification of the classical tongue (Ferguson 14; Wallace 15, 19).
  5. The non-Greek world became vastly more acquainted with Greek philosophy and the use of it to describe a way of life (Ferguson 14; Wright 153).
  6. The increased acquaintance with Greek philosophy entailed a general increase in the overall level of education (Ferguson 14). While this increase in education was certainly not evenly distributed throughout the empire (Schürer 1:11), more people were better educated and more literate than they had previously been, and this fact, combined with the use of Koine as a lingua franca for the Greek empire as a whole, increased communication among people from different cultures (Ferguson 14).
  7. As Greek language and philosophy spread, so did Greek religion, though it too had begun to spread before Alexander’s time (Ferguson 14; cf. Schürer 1:11). In particular, Alexander’s conquests abroad significantly increased the adoption of Greek deities and the practice of identifying local deities with the members of the Greek pantheon (Ferguson 14; see Schürer 1:11–29).
  8. The Alexandrian conquests effected greater urbanization in the lands they affected, tending to present the polis, rather than the countryside, village, or temple-state, as the fundamental backbone of societal structure (cf. Plato 414d–415e; see Ferguson 14).
  9. Finally, despite the spread of things like similar language, philosophy, culture, and economics more broadly (Blass & Debrunner §2; Deissmann 59; Voelz 912, 931; Wallace 15, 17; Wright 153), Grecian conquest introduced greater opportunities for individualism as Greek conventions provided alternatives to traditional ones (Ferguson 14). In such an environment, perhaps contrary to what had gone before it, choices of individuals in the conquered lands could receive greater priority than the things that these individuals would have otherwise inherited from their communities of origin (Ferguson 14–15).

In large measure, therefore, Alexander’s conquests accelerated the development or increased the strength of Hellenic influences that were already beginning to creep toward many of the areas that he subjugated.


In this post:

Hildegard Temporini and Wolfgang Haase
Hildegard Temporini and Wolfgang Haase
Frederich Blass, Albert Debrunner, and Robert Funk
Frederich Blass, Albert Debrunner, and Robert Funk
Chrys Caragounis
Chrys Caragounis
Adolf Deissmann
Adolf Deissmann
Everett Ferguson
Everett Ferguson
C. F. D. Moule
C. F. D. Moule
Plato
Plato
Emil Schürer
Emil Schürer
Daniel Wallace
Daniel Wallace
N. T. Wright
N. T. Wright

Creating Research Timelines in Excel

With the written comprehensive exams now finished, I have been thinking more about the “writing phase”–specifically about how to organize the several different writing projects that I would like to complete by the end of next year. Paul Silvia’s book and the tool for tracking writing progress that I have been trying to refine from his suggestions have proven helpful over the summer while preparing for the comprehensive exams. Still, although it certainly can be used otherwise, a progress tracking system like Silvia suggests seems to work better for writing that can be open ended: by following a regular writing schedule, projects can regularly and reliably come to completion. What happens, however, if one is working under a deadline (be it self-imposed or not) and, therefore, needs to develop a writing schedule backwards from this due date?

The spreadsheet below is at least an elementary attempt to provide a tool for performing such a task. Yet, one obvious limitation of this spreadsheet method is that all the writing projects are arranged serially along the completion timeline rather than allowing for working on more than one project at once.

If anyone else should find this tool useful and has refinement suggestions, I would be very interested in seeing them. For those who may be interested, this sample spreadsheet can be downloaded from Scribd, and some of the details are as follows:

  • Column D: Estimates the number of work days required to finish a writing project based on the average number of words per page, hours to write a page, work hours per week, and work days per week [e.g., =(((C3/B$13)*B$15)/(B$17/B$18))].
  • Column E: Translates work weeks into calendar weeks thereby accounting for regular days off each week [e.g., =(D3*7)/B$18].
  • Column F: Estimates the completion date of a given project based on a given start date or a previous project completion date.
  • Column G: Specifies any additional days off the specified writing schedule not already represented in Column E.
  • Column H: Calculates a final completion date based on Column F and Column G [e.g., =F3+G3].

These formulae appear to work on Google Docs exactly as they do on Excel when that program is operated on a Windows platform, but to my understanding, Excel calculates dates differently on Mac OS than it does on Windows, so Mac users may need to adjust this spreadsheet’s formulae.

The Rise and Division of Hellenic Empire

With Phillip II of Macedon’s (359–336 BC) son, Alexander the Great (356–323 BC), the Greeks established an empire vast enough to influence Palestine (see Ferguson 10, 13). When Thebes revolted after his father’s death, Alexander successfully re-unified the Greek city-states, albeit by conquest (Plutarch, Alex. 11.3–6; Ferguson 12), and Alexander was made head of the campaign against Persia in his father’s stead (Arrian, Anab. 1.1; cf. 1 Macc 1:1). In prosecuting this campaign, Alexander moved through Asia Minor (Plutarch, Alex. 24.1), Phoenicia (Plutarch, Alex. 24.1–25.2), Palestine (Plutarch, Alex. 25.3–5), Egypt (Plutarch, Alex. 26), Mesopotamia (Plutarch, Alex. 31), Iran (Plutarch, Alex. 37), and even as far as India (Plutarch, Alex. 55; cf. 1 Macc 1:3–4) before dying in Babylon from a fever (Plutarch, Alex. 75; cf. 1 Macc 1:5; see Ferguson 12). Yet, throughout these conquests, Alexander typically replaced neither the ruling class nor the religions in these conquered areas (Ferguson 12). Rather, instead of primarily intending and explicitly acting to spread Hellenism, Alexander concentrated on appointing governors, placing garrisons, and founding cities (Ferguson 12), things that eventually did indeed create and spread Hellenism.

After Alexander’s death, his major generals divided his empire among themselves (cf. 1 Macc 1:8–9). Ptolemy inherited Egypt and soon obtained Palestine also, winning it over from Antipater, also known as Antigonus, who had held Palestine for the first twenty years after Alexander’s death (Ferguson 403; Turner 118–23). Seleucus received Mesopotamia and briefly held Syria (Bosworth 210–45; Ferguson 404), and Antipater and Cassander ruled Macedonia and Greece (Ferguson 16; Walbank 221–56). Nevertheless, although the empire had become politically divided, its language and culture essentially remained Greek (Wright 157).


In this post:

Arrian
Arrian
A. B. Bosworth
A. B. Bosworth
Frank Walbank
Frank Walbank
Everett Ferguson
Everett Ferguson
Plutarch
Plutarch
N. T. Wright
N. T. Wright

Keeping Things in Perspective

In mid-June, I posted a review of Paul Silvia’s book How to Write a Lot with an additional tool for tracking writing progress. Yet, for academic work, non-productive non-writing time can be at least as important as important:

Is academic writing more important than spending time with your family and friends, petting the dog, and drinking coffee? A dog unpetted is a sad dog; a cup of coffee forsaken is caffeine lost forever. Protect your real-world time just as you protect your scheduled writing time (Silvia 132).


In this post:

Paul Silvia
Paul Silvia

Historical Backgrounds

Over the coming weeks, I plan to write a series of posts that outline some background issues that seem particularly relevant for New Testament interpretation. Of the numerous points of historical background that could be included here, four dimensions of the period leading up to the turn of the era will initially receive attention. These background dynamics will include: (1) the Greek conquest and its continuing effects, (2) the Maccabean revolt and the Hasmonean period, (3) the Roman conquest, and (4) sectarian developments within Judaism. As the series grows, if other areas suggest themselves as being particularly salient, thoughts about additional topics will certainly be welcome.

Lastly, as a final “programming note,” in this series, discussion of the hermeneutical justification for this background material’s relevance and its possible role(s) will be left to the side and addressed separately at some other point. For the present, an assumption of value, at least within the context of a certain kind(s) of interpretive activity, may simply be made, though some indicators of one possible means of justifying this material’s significance may be found in this blog’s first post.

Site Updates

For the past several weeks, I have been working on some reasonably substantial changes to the site that should make it more useful and beneficial. With these changes completed and my comprehensive exams on the horizon (in both a hermeneutical and a temporal sense), I hope to begin regularly posting again quite soon. For anyone who may be interested, the following are among the most significant of changes to the site:

  • The Bookshelf is now visual. Instead of an increasingly long list of text-only links for the publications mentioned on this site and other helpful works, the Bookshelf now uses book cover thumbnails with the author(s) or editor(s) names captioned below.
  • Complementing the new design for the bookshelf are the “In this post” sections that have been added. This section provides for each post a kind of quick reference bibliography that can be consulted more extensively if one so desires. This section allows any in-text references in the posts to be more abbreviated and, hence, less intrusive, while at the same time providing an additional means of informally facilitating content control and readerly review. “News” category posts, however, do not contain this section since it would seem to be only marginally, if at all, beneficial for this type of post.
  • The Bookshelf page and the “In this post” sections are now powered by the Westminster Bookstore and DealOz.com. Although Governor Perdue has recently sent the update to the North Carolina Sales and Use Tax back to the North Carolina General Assembly, Amazon.com has preemptively terminated North Carolina-based blog affiliations as infeasible for them under the pending, proposed revisions to the sales and use tax code. In addition, on the positive side, the Westminster Bookstore and DealOz.com have several good features that should make them more useful based on how their resources are being used on this site.
  • Links to http://bible.logos.com have been implemented for the biblical and most of the apocryphal literature. It seems that there may still be some quirks with some of the apocryphal literature (e.g., the additions to Daniel and Esther); otherwise, things seem to work quite smoothly.
  • Added Widgets
    • Series of posts are now tagged, and the series names appear in a sidebar widget.
    • The “Current and Recent Reading” section from the Bookshelf has moved to a sidebar widget.
    • In addition, I have added added a widget that lists select new and forthcoming publications.
    • At the end of May, Google rolled out a blog “bundling” service, which I have used to create a bundle on the sidebar for this blog and the other blogs listed in the blogroll here. Google Reader Blog BundlesSubscribing to this bundle should automatically subscribe you to the New Testament Interpretation feed as well as all of the other feeds in the blogroll. Whether you use Google Reader or anther feed reader, if you already subscribe to one or more of the blogs listed on the blogroll here, the read/unread statuses of posts in the bundled feed should automatically synchronize with the unbundled feed and vice versa. Once you subscribe to the bundle, you can also customize the specific bundle feeds that you want to receive. At this point, as changes are made to the blogroll, individual bundle subscriptions will not automatically update. To update an individual, bundle subscription, you will need to resubscribe to the New Testament Interpretation bundle itself.
  • According to my records, the following blogs have been added to the blogroll since the last blogroll update:
  • A Student Resources page has been added as a parent page for the previously independent New Testament Greek, Other Websites, and Theological Writing pages. Links in older versions of the writing handout will be automatically redirected to the new Theological Writing page location.
  • The New Testament Greek page has been updated to revive what had apparently become dead links, add files that had previously been corrupted, add audio files for the optative mood, and add miscellaneous other files.
  • Finally, the site has a new theme and a new logo. The image is clipped and edited from a photograph of a leaf from Codex Sinaiticus online at the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts. Beginning on the seventh line from the top, is Luke 10:26, which, in the NA27/UBS4 text, reads: ὁ δὲ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτόν· ἐν τῷ νόμῳ τί γέγραπται; πῶς ἀναγινώσκεις; (And he said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?”).

Codex Sinaiticus Update

A while back, I mentioned that Mark for Codex Sinaiticus had been digitized and made available online. The Codex Sinaiticus Project website now reports that “[f]rom 6 July 2009, the Codex Sinaiticus website features all extant pages of the Codex.” In addition to the page images, which have been available for some time at the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts, the Codex Sinaiticus Project website allows users to modify lighting options and view transcriptions and translations for the manuscript.

HT: Chris Weimer