On the Apparent Demise of the Twitter

I’m not too sure what to think about all the doom and gloom over on the Twitter regarding its hastening demise.

But it seems the new owner’s firing of many of the people who keep the lights on combined with many others choosing to leave (here I think of folks there on H1B visas who really don’t have an option; they’re stuck) has sealed the fate of the site.

And this pisses me off.

I mean, I think there will be some form of Twitter that sticks around. Maybe it’ll go dark for awhile. But whatever survives, I’m not sure it will be the same.

I researched and wrote books, tweeting about them the whole time. I got gigs because of Twitter. I laughed. I mean, @BethMoore is there.

Most importantly, I had community on Twitter. I don’t mention it much, but being a parent of special needs kids (autism, ADHD, and other things) during the pandemic SUCKED. Leaving our church sucked. It was isolating. It IS isolating. But Twitter opened the curtains a bit and let a little light shine in.

I’m not signing out of Twitter or deleting my account (@RickBrannan, of course). But I know Twitter will change. And I’m guessing the turbo hardcore workplace that Musk seems bent on trying to initiate will be focused on wringing money from users, which means the atmosphere of the place will be completely different.

And I’m not looking forward to it.

And I really hope I’m wrong.

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NASSCAL’s e-Clavis Included in Logos 10 Packages

One of the things I’m really excited about with Logos 10 is some increased support for learning more about Christian writings related to the New Testament, specifically writings grouped as “Christian Apocrypha” or “New Testament Apocrypha.”

One organization that has been at the forefront of researching and publishing this material is the North American Society for the Study of Christian Apocryphal Literature (NASSCAL, on the Twitter as @NASSCALtw).

NASSCAL, under the editorship of Tony Burke, have created a phenomenal resource they call e-Clavis: Christian Apocrypha. It contains summaries, manuscript witnesses, and multilingual bibliographies of scads of writings classified as Christian Apocrypha. It is a hugely valuable resource. And they licensed the material (which is frequently added to, revised, and updated) with an open license.

So after talking with folks at NASSCAL about Logos republishing the e-Clavis material for Logos Bible Software, I worked for a bit to retrieve all of their material and faithfully reproduce it so that Logos users could access it within Logos and even go to the e-Clavis itself if they wanted to. The version in Logos Bible Software is called “The NASSCAL Handbook of Christian Apocryphal Literature” and looks like this (on the right):

On left, NASSCAL e-Clavis material in the Factbook. On right, the material within the Handbook resource.

We hope to update the Logos version perhaps quarterly. In addition to the e-Clavis material, for articles where writings are also available in Logos Bible Software (in one resource or another) we have added a list of Related Articles with links to the writings in the library.

As I said earlier, I’m really excited about this particular resource. It allows careful, accurate, well-researched material on these valuable writings to be accessed within the context of Logos when you run into questions or mentions and need more information.

Thanks to NASSCAL, to Tony Burke, and to the numerous editors and contributors to the e-Clavis for their work.

(Disclaimer: I’m a member of NASSCAL, have contributed to the e-Clavis, and am currently on the board of NASSCAL as the independent scholars representative.)

Logos 10 is Here!

Today, October 10 (aka 10/10 !) is the day the Logos 10 arrives. We’ve been at work on it for awhile, and that means it’s time for me to write a post about some of the areas I contributed to (as is my custom; see posts on Logos 9 and Logos 8).

As with Logos 9, Logos 10 (and Verbum 10) will be released with complete packages and localizations in Spanish, French, Portuguese, German, Korean, and Chinese (Simplified and Traditional). New editions of the iOS and Android versions of Logos as well as a new edition of the web version of Logos are also part of this release. In other words: We’re updating everything. Lots of work, but totally worth it.

Factbook, Factbook, Factbook

As with Logos 9, an emphasis for Logos 10 is the Factbook. For Logos 10, we spent a lot of time laying the groundwork to make linking into Factbook directly from resources a whole lot easier. “Factbook Tags” are places in resources that are tagged directly to Factbook. If the visual filter for Factbook Tags is turned on, a light blue underline appears below text. This indicates a point of contact with material in Factbook. Hover, and a hover card displays. If plain text, click, and you’ll open Factbook. If the text is an existing hyperlink (popup, article jump) right-click and you can navigate to Factbook using the context menu.

For the Logos 10 launch, we have evaluated most of the library for unambiguous names and theological terms (we’re working on making this more comprehensive). Hover and get information on them. Click and read the Factbook article (likely from one of your higher rated sources).

One area I worked on for launch was supporting Factbook tags for Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, so if you’re reading a commentary (or journal, or systematic or Biblical theology) in any language and there’s Greek or Hebrew in there, you can hover to see the lemma and then link to Factbook for a lexicon article.

Now, this is where it gets REALLY COOL if you remember some of the work I did for Logos 9. That work involved supporting NT, LXX, and Hebrew Bible manuscripts in Factbook.

So for Logos 10, a chunk of my work involved adding Factbook Tags to critical apparatuses to provide access to more manuscript information where manuscripts are cited. At launch we have Factbook Tags in the NA27, NA28, UBS5, and Tyndale House GNT apparatuses; at some time after launch we will have tags in a whole lot more (for NT: Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford, Metzger’s TCGNT, Comfort’s NTTTC, Hodges & Farstad, NET Bible v1 Notes, maybe NOBTS’s apparatuses; for LXX: Rahlf’s LXX, Swete’s LXX, volumes of the Göttingen LXX).

It looks like the below (using the UBS5 apparatus). Hover the “33” for the card to show. For more information, right-click the 33, select the manuscript item in the left section of the context menu, and then navigate there with “Factbook” in the right column.

From the Factbook page (on left) you can get more information on the manuscript, and for several even navigate to page images. Note that many page images require an account at the NTVMR, but an email query to the address specified in the resource should result in an account for you, though it may take a few days for a response (this is managed by the NTVMR folks, not Faithlife, so please be patient with them).

I’m not sure if you realize how important this type of linkage is to people interested in the text of the New Testament. It means that, for most things cited in modern apparatuses, images for the reading in the cited manuscript are just a few clicks away.

Creeds, OT Pseudepigrapha, and Christian Apocrypha, Oh My!

These are Factbook-related as well. But we’ve assembled resources to help users navigate and learn more about these particular areas. I’ll break these into two groups. The first group involves:

  • The NASSCAL Handbook of Christian Apocryphal Literature

The NASSCAL Handbook of Christian Apocryphal Literature is an edition of the e-Clavis: Christian Apocrypha which is produced by the North American Society for the Study of Christian Apocryphal Literature (NASSCAL). It contains summaries of several Christian Apocryphal writings as well as extensive manuscript listings and bibliographies. The Logos edition also includes supplemental links to editions of Christian Apocryphal writings in resources for Logos Bible Software. It is an absolute treasure of a resource and we all need to thank the folks at NASSCAL for creating this work and for making it publicly available.

The second group involves:

  • Creeds, Confessions, and Catechisms: A Guide
  • Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: A Guide

These resources provide information about creeds and OT Pseudepigrapha as well as provide an index to locations in Logos resources that present editions or discuss them. They are designed to point you to more information in Factbook or potentially elsewhere in your library regarding the writings you’re interested in.

The Creeds resource has been translated into Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Korean, and Chinese (both Simplified and Traditional) for launch. We hope to translate the OT Pseudepigrapha guide into several languages over the next few months.

A Play on Words? That’s Wordplay

I worked very closely with my colleague James (Jimmy) Parks on Wordplay in the Bible. I wrote code to look for instances of wordplay discussed in commentaries; Jimmy analyzed all of that data to isolate and describe the instances. We then added links to areas where commentaries discussed the wordplay in the verse. The result is a resource, ordered like a commentary, that gives insight to wordplay going on in the original languages that may be helpful when studying the verse.

Wordplay in the Bible has been translated into French, Portuguese, and Chinese (Traditional and Simplified) for release. Translations to German, Spanish, and Korean are forthcoming.

Thanks!

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading! It is my hope that you’ll find Logos (whatever version you’re running) useful for the context you use it in.

More information on Logos 10: https://www.logos.com/10

Consolidating the Side Hustles

I seem to have a number of irons in the fire at any given time. There is always the “day job” at Faithlife, which even after 29+ years, I still enjoy, find mentally stimulating, and feel like I’m doing work that is valuable for the kingdom. I want to make clear that I plan on my primary gig being working for Faithlife as long as they’ll have me. But —

I also research and write (like Fragments of Christianity) and self-publish. I’ve written introductions and translations that have been published in collections of NT Apocrypha by Eerdmans (More NTA1, More NTA2, and the forthcoming More NTA3; thanks, Tony). I also have recently published an article in a volume on Titus by Mohr Siebeck.

I’ve translated and edited volumes for Lexham Press, including The Apostolic Fathers: A New Translation; Greek Apocryphal Gospels: A New Translation; The Lexham English Septuagint. I was intimately involved with the development of the Lexham English Bible New Testament and its source the SBL Greek New Testament. On top of all of that, I have a volume on Old Testament Pseudepigrapha to be published by Lexham Press that I’ve been working on with three other editors/translators.

I’ve published reader editions of some Christian Apocryphal writings in Greek for my Appian Way Greek Readers series. This involved keying, multiple proofreading passes of the Greek, code to add lemmas and glosses, edits and revisions to existing translations and glosses, indexing, and some crazy gymnastics with MS Word to make it all work. The series currently has two volumes: 1 Apocr. Apoc. Jn and Acts of Pilate and the Descent of Christ to Hades. I’d like to do more and have a specific writing in mind to target next.

I’ve also recently begun some contract data work for a company that focuses on innovations in Bible translation as support to Bible translators and translation agencies. Not to mention I’m (trying) to write the Baylor Handbook on the Apostolic Fathers volumes on the Shepherd of Hermas.

It’s busy. It’s crazy. It’s also time to bring it all under one umbrella and set myself up to be able to take on this part-time contract sort of work a little easier come tax time. So it is time to introduce:

Appian Way Services

I don’t even have a logo or a website yet, but that’s OK. I do have a website for the Appian Way Press that I haven’t touched in years, it may be time to totally rework/reimplement it because it needs help (and is totally done on the cheap).

OK, time to answer some questions:

Why “Appian Way Services”?

Well, I’ve used the name Appian Way Press for self-publishing, even though it wasn’t really a formal thing. Now it is. The state business license and city business license were recently approved, and I’m officially in business.

Where did “Appian Way” come from initially?

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the street I lived on was called “Appian Way.” When I needed a name for self-publishing, it seemed an easy thing to use. And my current street name was not an option.

What does Appian Way Services Do?

Appian Way Services provides services to individuals and publishers in the areas of: Ancient Language translation, editing of ancient language translations, proofreading of Greek text, developmental editing, copy editing, and proofreading. In addition Appian Way Services can provide data conversion and text manipulation services for publishers, people and organizations in academic contexts, and Bible translation agencies.

What doesn’t Appian Way Services Do?

Appian Way Services does not index books. It is painful enough to index my own stuff.

Will Appian Way Press ever publish stuff not written by Rick?

Not in the foreseeable future. But we could provide services to people who have written material and want to self-publish something.

Could Appian Way Services do some work for me (or my academic project/grant)?

Maybe. Possibly. Send me an email (textgeek at gmail dot com) with some description, and we can talk.

Rick’s 2022 Research and Writing Schedule

I’ve posted writing schedules in the past (2016 through 2019 and 2021). For some reason, I didn’t do it for 2020. But it’s time again to try and sketch things out and make some plans for how to spend my research and writing time in 2022. For those unaware, this is how I plan to spend my own personal time, there is no connection here with my day job for Faithlife, makers of Logos Bible Software. That’s a totally different set of priorities and responsibilities.

First off, I’m super pumped to have finished and published Fragments of Christianity in July of 2021 (Amazon $24.95; Logos $12.99 preorder). I have some ideas for a follow-up (i.e. more “early” papyri, several of which are transcribed and translated already), but I don’t know that I’ll get to that in 2022, but maybe I’ll find time to sketch an outline or something.

Second, in early 2021, I was invited to contribute the volumes on the Shepherd of Hermas for the forthcoming Baylor Handbook of the Apostolic Fathers. After thinking and crunching the numbers a bit, I decided to do it. I started in earnest on that in the summer and fall, working through variations in the Greek texts. I’m currently examining intertextual references with the LXX and NT as well as topical and lexical cross-references (about 1/3 through) and hope to have that pass complete in early 2022. My next step will be reading a bunch of literature and integrating necessary references in my textual and intertextual notes to have it all in one place when I start to write, which I hope will be sometime in 2022 (summer, maybe?) Hermas is huge, and I only have 160K words (two volumes) which includes Greek text and translation, so it will definitely be a handbook on the Greek (and Latin!) text, not an exhaustive/comprehensive commentary proper. I’m going to be working on this one for awhile; my goal at present is to have the whole thing submitted and accepted by the time my daughter graduates high school. She finishes her freshman year in July 2022.

Which brings me up to my next bit of news: I’ll be taking a Latin class starting at the end of January, pending enough people register. The class goes for 10 weeks. I’ve been in fake-it-til-you-make-it land in Latin (and other languages), and it seems it is time for me to just dig in. In a perfect world, I’ll have a few classes of Latin in (3-4?) by the time I need to write the Latin portions of the Hermas handbook.

But life will not be all Hermas and Latin in 2022. Nope, I’m also under contract to Lexham Press, along with three other editors, to produce translations of various Old Testament Pseudepigrapha works for a collected edition. My focus is mainly on fragmentary items (e.g. some Orphica, Theodotion, Ezekiel the Tragedian, Fragments from Epic Poets, Artapanus, Eupolemus, etc.) plus the Testament of Solomon (which is WILD) and some of the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. And other stuff. I’ve done the basic work on translations, so in 2022 I’ll be reviewing/revising that, working on bibliography stuff, revising and updating some introductions, and edit/review passes on the stuff the other editors have done. I’ll probably take a break from Hermas in the spring (before starting actually writing, after working through tons of literature) to focus on this project.

The year seems pretty full. But I’m guessing I’ll also need a diversion, particularly in the fall and winter. So if I do, at least at this point, I’m thinking about starting work on another Greek reader edition. Which writing? This time I think I’ll do the Protevangelium of James. It is a great story, tangential to lots of canonical material, and has perpetual interest. I’ll need to establish an edition of the text (likely Tischendorf’s but I’ll have to see what other textual evidence has become available) and then work on a translation, likely revising the translation from the Ante-Nicene Fathers. These reader editions (currently I have readers for the First Apocryphal Apocalypse of John and the Acts of Pilate with the Descent of Christ to Hades) are priced low ($9.95) and are perpetual sellers for me. Not huge or anything (I’m definitely not getting rich on these) but maybe if I’m lucky I can take my wife out to lunch every few months (at least while the kids are in school and we don’t need to worry about childcare).

It’s possible I might have an SBL paper in there (thinking about something probably Hermas related, which in my experience is a tough section to get a paper accepted in). If that actually happens (and if I can do it virtually, because as much as I’d like to be in Denver in 2022, I’m not sure I’ll be able to), then I’ll need to eek out the time.

That’s all I can forsee about my 2022 research and writing schedule at this point. I have one other “maybe” project in there, but it is too tenuous to even mention. I’ll let you know if for some reason it jumps up in priority.

Thanks, all. Happy New Year!

So I Guess This Is Christmas?

As I sit to write this, it is the afternoon of December 24, 2021. We’ve received Christmas cards and letters from friends, but in typical Brannan fashion, we’ve not written any letters or printed any photo cards to send. And this is the rhythm of our lives.

Before we go too far, here’s a picture from January 2021. It is perhaps the only family selfie in which all of our faces are visible, and everyone has something resembling a smile. I think it is my favorite picture of the entire year, taken at West Beach on Whidbey Island (Oak Harbor, Washington, at Joseph Whidbey State Park).

After Amy took it (and I saw it) I said something like: “Well, there’s our Christmas card photo. We don’t have to worry about getting one for the rest of the year, because that’ll never happen again.”

And while you think I may have been joking, I really wasn’t. Yes, I did intend some humor, but I was also totally forthright. The chances of us getting another picture with all of us in the frame and with some semblance of a smile were pretty slim. I mean, we even had some professional pics done in the fall, and didn’t get near this level of goodness (no slight to the photographer, it was a tough assignment and she did get some excellent shots!)

See, you might not know it from looking at us (especially that sweet picture up there where everything looks super normal and happy) but there’s a lot going on in our little family. We have several diagnoses that impact daily life (ADHD and Autism among others) as well as family members who experience chronic pain and discomfort for a number of reasons. It all ends up meaning that our lives are lived pretty much with very consistent, patterned days with lots of regularity and no surprises. When something disrupts that schedule (read: Daylight Savings Time, Christmas break, late wake-up, miss normal screen time, etc.) then disregulation reigns in our house and the attitudes and volumes are raised well past eleven.

If we’re lucky, that’s it. But sometimes (frequently?) it snowballs into an avalanche of disregularion and everyone is loud and frustrated with everyone else. It all compounds to bringing us (me and Amy) to a point at the end of the day when kids are in bed and the house is quiet, and we revel in the quietness. It is the most important thing. It is the most refreshing thing. And we let pretty much nothing interrupt it. It is the time where Amy and I can actually talk without being interrupted by anything. It is the time where I am able to focus and read, write, and research.

Amy and I don’t spend that time writing Christmas letters or sending Christmas cards. Maybe we should. But we’ve learned to set that time apart to do what refreshes us, because we know we will need the energy the next day because the circus of disregulation will start all over again.

What am I saying and why am I writing this? I really appreciate seeing folks’ Christmas cards, photos, and letters. I feel super guilty for not responding and sharing the fun things that happened and sweet family photos. But know that every day is pretty much the same for us, if we break the consistency we pay for it.

We wish you all a super duper Merry Christmas and an exceedingly Happy New Year!

(One of the awesome professional photos from the fall)

NASSCAL and Independent Scholars

In the “news you probably haven’t heard yet” department, I was recently nominated to serve on the board of the North American Society for the Study of Christian Apocryphal Literature (NASSCAL, website, Twitter) as the “Independent Scholars Representative.” I happily accepted and have since been confirmed to the position. The appointment runs through 2023.

The NASSCAL board created the position because they wanted the interests of independent scholars represented within the society. As an independent scholar, I’m thrilled the board acted in this way to support the work of independent scholars in the area of Christian Apocrypha.

But this all causes me, the person to directly represent these interests to the society, to wonder what your specific interests and needs of a professional academic society like NASSCAL might be.

So I’m asking: Do you consider yourself an independent scholar? Do you research or work in Christian Apocrypha or an adjacent area? I would enjoy talking with you further, particularly if you have insight, direction, or requests for ways in which NASSCAL can support independent scholars working in the area of Christian Apocrypha. You can comment here or use the blog contact form to reach me. I’m happy to email, chat by video over Zoom or Meet, or whatever else might work.

About NASSCAL

The North American Society for the Study of Christian Apocryphal Literature is a scholarly organization dedicated to the study of the Christian Apocrypha, a vast assortment of texts that feature tales of Jesus, his family and his immediate followers but, for various reasons, are not included in the New Testament. These texts were composed as early as the first century, and the creation of apocrypha continues even to today. The society was founded in 2014 with the goal of fostering collaboration between scholars in the field and cognate disciplines, both within North America and abroad. It welcomes participation from scholars at all stages of their careers, including graduate study.

The society is currently involved in two projects: e-Clavis: Christian Apocrypha (a comprehensive database featuring manuscript listings and bibliographical resources for each apocryphal text) and Early Christian Apocrypha (a series of pocket-size texts-in-translation published in conjunction with the Westar Texts and Translation Series).

(Taken from nasscal.com and slightly modified)

Help Me Celebrate my 50th Birthday! #RicksGreek50th

My birthday is on October 8.

Having a “milestone” birthday during these days of COVID-19, with social distancing, masking, and the like is pretty sucktastic. I mean, I wouldn’t have a big to-do anyway (not my speed) but I feel like doing something. So last week (Oct. 1) on the Twitter (@RickBrannan is my account), I offered the following:

It’s October 1, so you know what that means, folks. My birthday is ONE WEEK from today. Moving from “seven sevens” to the Jubilee. No huge celebration planned. #ThanksCovid So throw your own party in my honor, read some Greek (or a translation), and drink some good local [beer emoji]

@RickBrannan

I’d like to make it official. Help me celebrate my birthday on Friday, October 8 by:

  • Reading some non-New Testament Greek (or translation thereof)
  • Enjoying the beverage of your choice
  • Tweet what you’re reading (picture optional) with the #RicksGreek50th hashtag

New to this stuff? Don’t have a favorite Green Loeb to pull from the shelf? Need some suggestions for non-NT Greek? Here are a few:

  • Apocrypha/Deuterocanon. I recommend:
    • Judith
    • Tobit
    • Additions to Daniel (Susanna particularly)
  • Apostolic Fathers. I recommend:
    • Second Clement
    • Didache
    • Epistle to Diognetus
    • Polycarp’s Letter to the Philippians
    • Martyrdom of Polycarp
  • Christian Apocrypha. I recommend:
    • Protevangelium of James
    • Gospel of Peter
    • Acts of Pilate (with Descent of Christ to Hades)
    • First Apocryphal Apocalypse of John

Or read whatever the heck you want to. It doesn’t even have to be Christian.

If you want to read something I’ve suggested, but can’t find a text (Greek or English), let me know (before Friday would be best) and I’ll see what I can do.

Bottom line: Just get into some Greek literature of some sort and enjoy it. Let me know what you read, it’ll make me smile.

And if there’s one thing we all need these days, it is more smiling.

“Fragments of Christianity” now on Pre-pub for @Logos Bible Software!

In July, my book Fragments of Christianity: Fragmentary Witnesses to Early Christian Liturgies, Hymns, Homilies, and Prayers was released in print and is available at Amazon for $24.95.

Order the Fragments of Christianity pre-pub!

At that time, several folks asked me if the book would be available for Logos Bible Software. Well, Fragments of Christianity is now available for pre-publication purchase in Logos format for $12.99.

With Logos Bible Software, “pre-publication” (aka “pre-order”) is a process where interest in a book is guaged by the amount of pre-orders a book gets. Faithlife/Logos know (approximately) how much producing the book will cost. When they have enough orders to meet their cost, then the book gets produced. Here’s the great part: Pre-orders are usually the best price you’ll find on the book, and you are not charged until the book is produced and delivered. That means you get a great deal and you don’t pay until the resource is ready. Logos notifies you before the fact on the off chance that you just might want to cancel your order.

Interested in the material? This series on Epiphany can give you an idea of the content. Seem useful?: Get in on the pre-publication price of $12.99!

My New Book, “Fragments of Christianity”

This past month has been a bit of a roller coaster. I released my new book, Fragments of Christianity: Fragmentary Witnesses to Early Christian Liturgies, Hymns, Homilies, and Prayers. Thrilled for it to finally be available! You can purchase (or even just “Look Inside”) at Amazon ($24.95).

Shortly after that, it was family vacation to the beach. (And we all know how much “vacation” happens with family vacation and three kids aged 4-14.) It was also our 15th wedding anniversary. Then I broke a bone in my right hand, so life slowed down a bit while I figured out how to function in a world where I’m typing at a computer for most of the day (and researching/writing in the evenings). In the middle of all of that got some great news on an editing/writing project that has been simmering for awhile but looks like it will proceed. (More news on that whenever a contract happens.)

But back to Fragments of Christianity. It includes transcriptions, translations, and brief discussion of 36 early (dated in the 5th century or before in a published source) fragmentary papyri. I sifted through many more papyri (all of the draft transcription and translations are on my “Stuff Early Christians Read” github repo) so maybe there’s a follow-up volume sometime down the road. The 36 papyri included in the book, however, are really cool (of course) but also useful.

This particlar project “clicked” when I realized that these aren’t simply texts randomly saved from the ravages of time. They are witnesses to the people who used them. They are a tangible link to the Christianity practiced (good, bad, and ugly) 1600-1800 years ago and the people who practiced it.

They are incredible, and they are worth our reading and study. You should check them out.