My First Timothy book for $15 at #SBLAAR2016

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If you’ve been waiting for a deal on Lexical Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles: First Timothy, and you’ll be in San Antonio for SBL, this is it!

I’ll have some copies available for purchase at the conference. Normally $19.95, you can get it from me for $15 cash ($16.50 if you want to do it via Paypal).

Zap me an email (rick at faithlife dot com) if you’re interested and want to reserve one of these bad boys. I might even sign a copy for you, if you’re in to that sort of thing.

The Conference Season is upon Us

If you have any connection at all with the world of Biblical Studies, particularly the “academic” variety, then you already know that it is that magical time of year when thousands of folks who study the Bible and related texts descend on a particular city, walk around in tweed, run to make paper presentations, mercilessly hawk publishing proposals at any breathing target, fawn over the 15 books Michael Bird published in the last three weeks, and drink copious amounts of coffee (and other beverages, depending on time of day).

Yes, it’s time for the Society of Biblical Literature’s (SBL) annual meeting, this year in San Antonio. These meetings co-occur with the American Academy of Religion (AAR), and religious booksellers the world over vie for coveted corner and entry-door exhibit spaces to sell their wares at discount to folks who reflexively pull out credit cards and buy books.

Previous to the SBL and AAR joint meetings are the meetings of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS). Several smaller societies (IBR, for one) also meet during these times.

The first time I attended SBL was when it was last in San Antonio (2006? 2005?). I’ve learned a lot about going to these conferences since then. If you’re a rookie, then you need to know the secret: The real power of these conferences is not in hearing some paper (though yeah, you should be diligent and go to papers in your area(s)). The real power of these conferences is in meeting people. Networking. You know, an introvert’s nightmare.

I can say this because I am, most assuredly, an introvert.

But now is the time you need to put your big girl / big boy pants on, and get over it because it is that important to the development of your future career. This is where you meet people who may in later years be on hiring committees for jobs you’re applying for. They may be on the committee reviewing your PhD application. They may be the person you’d like to have supervising your doctoral work, or at least have as an external examiner.

Find any excuse to meet these people. Go to their paper. Ask them to coffee. But do it right. Don’t fawn all over them. Be genuine. And if someone seems unapproachable, find their grad students and take them to coffee. Or sit and chat with them outside the book exhibit. Go to whatever paper they’re giving, listen, and ask them a real question privately afterwards.

Very rarely will you have a place where pretty much everyone who could possibly make a future for you will be in the same city, but Biblical Studies folks do it every year. This is it. So, have fun. Find good papers to hear. Hang out some evenings with your friends and colleagues. But use your time too, because it is an opportunity that few other industries have. Start to build relationships not only because people are interesting, but because you know you’ll run into them in the future.

Me? I’m not teaching anywhere. I’m not a grad student. But I’ve got a great gig wrangling all sorts of data and producing products that people in Biblical Studies find useful (some of them essential).

I’m happy to chat with anyone about almost anything, just use the contact form, or email me: rick@faithlife.com and we can set up a time. I’m happy to chat about self-publishing, writing, editing, textual criticism, Greek, Apostolic Fathers, datasets, databases, programming and tools, my job at Faithlife and opportunities here, or whatever. Seriously.

See you in San Antonio!

The Day After the Day After

My hope is for this to be my last post on the 2016 election, and politics in general, for some time.

I understand concerns that that those who supported Hillary Clinton have (read my previous post). I didn’t vote for Donald J. Trump either. But people, this is America. You have the right to speak, and you have the right to protest. But Donald J. Trump is the president-elect. If you don’t like it, work through your stages of grief already and start to do something about it.

Here’s what you shouldn’t do:

  • Fall into the same echo-chamber problem you accuse Mr. Trump’s supporters of having.
  • Take part in dubious activities that, had the election turned out differently, you’d further scorn others for.
  • Make outrageous and unsubstantiated claims and statements on the social media.
  • Categorically group and castigate people as stupid or imbecilic just because you do not agree with them.
  • Wring your hands over horribleness that has not yet come. It is in the power of all of us to ensure the horribleness doesn’t happen.
  • Remember what Yoda said: “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to … suffering.”

Here’s what you should do:

  • If you witness civil rights grievances or hate crimes: Document, document, document. Take pictures. Make recordings. Upload to the social medias.
  • Hold the people that do wrong things responsible for the wrong things. It’s not Donald J. Trump’s fault when the KKK marches on a freeway overpass in North Carolina. He didn’t order them to do it. Blame the KKK, they made the decision to do it. Blame the people who support the KKK. Address the issue.
  • Take a break from the social media (unless it’s related to the first bullet point). Refuse to let hate drive you. See Yoda quote above.
  • Talk to your neighbors about kids, about life. Understand people as people — complex beings — and don’t judge.

It’ll be all right. As much as it pains you, give Donald Trump the benefit of the doubt. Extend him and his supporters the courtesy you’d expect had the election turned out differently. He won, now he’s gotta govern.

Let’s see what he does before acting as if the world has ended. After all, it didn’t end when Bill Clinton took office after G.H.W. Bush; it didn’t end when G.W. Bush took office after Bill Clinton, and it didn’t end when Barack Obama took office after G.W. Bush. The world isn’t going to end this time either. Our republic is resilient.

Unity in essentials, liberty in non-essentials, and in all things, charity. 

The Day After

Recall from my previous post that I voted for neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump. So I was already expecting a morose day. But I’d honestly expected Hillary to win, and I’d expected to have to deal with a president-elect whose political ideology I disagree with. Instead, I have to deal with a president-elect whom I find personally reprehensible.

I am currently a registered Republican (though that may change), so the difficulty I’m having with a “successful” night for Republicans is actually weird. Really weird.

And I don’t know that it’s because of Donald Trump’s positions on political issues. Some I agree with, some I don’t (well, to the degree that we can divine the mind of Donald Trump).

My hesitation is because of the rhetoric Mr. Trump used throughout the election cycle. My hesitation is due to the elements of society that Mr. Trump’s rhetoric stokes. While I understand Mr. Trump has denied or refused to confirm association with these fringe elements, my fear is that now they are emboldened to move from the shadows into the light of day.

I’m talking about white supremacism. I’m talking about xenophobia. I don’t accuse Mr. Trump of holding these reprehensible ideas; I do think his ascension and rhetoric has given these ideas and those who hold them an opening.

As a parent in a trans-racial family, this gives me pause.

I had to explain to my daughter this morning about how some people who support Mr. Trump are like the people who wanted Rosa Parks (one of her heroes) to just stand in the back of the bus and be quiet. My son isn’t old enough to understand this yet. And my third child, who will join our family in January, will begin life in a different world.

Please, Mr. Trump — no, wait. Please, Mr. President-elect — disavow ties to these reprehensible ideologies. Give them no quarter. Denounce them when they act.

What I’ve Learned This Election Cycle

[Note: Much of this has been pent up and brewing in me a long time (ask my wife). Please know I respect you, how you voted, and why you voted the way you did. Or if you didn’t vote, I respect that too.]

The most important thing I’ve learned in this election cycle, I think, is that Americans really want to back a winner. We love to win.

This is great for sports ball, but this election cycle I’ve come to think that it isn’t great in the realm of politics.

In sports ball, we can passionately disagree about a call, argue, debate the replay (then the replay rule), hold our opinions, and then respond, taunt, and jeer on social media. The call is made, the game goes on.

We turn proficient players into heroes, and root for them. Our heroes can do no wrong. Even when their character flaws and poor decisions are foisted into the limelight, advocates readily discount such things. It’s OK, they’re just sports-ball players, let them be. Support them because they’re good at the game.

This same attitude pretty much sucks with politics. Both major party candidates are deplorable, yet — because we Americans have this need to be on the side of the winner — we rationalize away the horribleness each candidate brings to the table.

Seriously.

Hillary Clinton’s best quality is that she’s not Donald Trump, and Donald Trump’s best quality is that he’s not Hillary Clinton. And that’s about the best I can say of either of them as candidates.

This election cycle, I’ve learned that this need to back the eventual winner can cause one to twist and contort things to rationalize candidate views and actions that shouldn’t be rationalized. Trump’s misogyny is “locker-room talk” and “we’re all sinners” and “God used David despite his sins” but Bill Clinton was assailed and impeached on grounds of, essentially, integrity and character because of sexual indiscretions? (Conversely, Hillary supporters want to use this as fodder on Trump despite their acceptance of it during Bill’s presidency?) Trump’s bigotry and flirtation with anti-semitism and white supremism is misguided but tolerable because the Supreme Court is all-important?

Yeah, right. Trump is an arrogant slimeball not worth the respect of the office. In the dictionary, in the entry for “Non-Presidential,” there’s a picture of him.

Fret not, the same is true of the other nominee, Hillary Clinton. Her email server indicts her, but Trump’s past actions of defrauding contractors, evading taxes, bankruptcies, and totally serving his own self interest in everything doesn’t indict him? Her documented poor decision-making in critical, stressful, and time-sensitive situations doesn’t matter, but Trump’s inexplicable carelessness in handling his own Twitter account does?

Seriously? Clinton, while experienced, hasn’t shown she can make the right decisions at critical junctures. (“Reset Button” with Russia, anyone?) Remember that entry in the dictionary for “Non-Presidential”? It has two pictures, to make the point. Hillary’s is there too.

All each of us is doing is casting our candidate in the light most likely to make the candidate attractive enough to vote for. We want them to be heroes. But to apply a phrase a friend has used in completely different context, we’re “polishing the turd.” And then on the social media we’re blasting people who purport to be our friends (or at least friendly to us) with invective and rationalization (and a twist of scare-mongering) of why the saintly, well-thought-out, unassailable view we have is completely perfect and cogent, and anyone with a contrary view must hate America and actively support its downfall.

This, my friends, is wrong.

This is what I’ve learned about presidential elections this year. And this is why I couldn’t bring myself to vote for either major party presidential candidate. Because to do so, I would have had to admit that my desire to back a winner (or to force a loser) was more important than matters I hold dear.

I long for a truly pro-life candidate. Abortion is one issue amongst many. For some it’s the only issue. I can respect that. But I want to vote for someone who values life such that they support stuff like:

  • Outlaw the death penalty
  • Guaranteed and available prenatal care for pregnant women
  • Guaranteed and available post-natal care for infants and post-partum care for mothers.
  • Abortions are minimized by pursuing every possible means.
    • We could pass a law today outlawing abortion except in cases of rape, incest, and threat to mother’s health. That is progress. We should support it and do it without thinking. If you hate abortion, why support elective abortion while holding out for a total ban? Why not win a victory and continue to fight the war?
    • Pregnant mothers who need it should have guaranteed access to financial assistance as inadequate finances are a frequently given reason for abortions and also for adoptions
  • Increase the Adoption Tax Credit and make it fully refundable
  • Increase federal support for state foster care programs and bolster adoptions within these programs.
  • Defund Planned Parenthood, force them to separate the actual women’s health programs they have from their abortion concern (as a separately held business entity, differently named, different facilities, etc.). Let them fundraise it on their own if it’s so important.
  • Outlaw euthanasia
  • Ensure that criminal sentencing guidelines for drug offenses are geared towards treatment, not punishment. For all races and all strata of society.

And that’s just a quick list made without much thinking. Find me a candidate (not a party, a candidate) who supports these sorts of things — who evaluates issues through the lens of life — and I’ll vote for him or her. Evan McMullin was the closest I could find, so I wrote in his name.

Now, please don’t talk to me about how I “threw away” my vote. It’s my vote. I have to be able to sleep at night after making it. I’ve learned that this is more important than backing a winner or forcing a loser. Unfortunately, it took Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as major party candidates to teach me this lesson.

Now, a word about the Supreme Court.

People on both sides, stop using this as a cudgel.

We have this system of checks and balances. A President doesn’t just name a Supreme Court justice (no, really, ask President Obama and Merrick Garland if that’s how it works). The President appoints, the Senate confirms or does not confirm. (Note: The Senate should act when they have a nominee; this current thing with Garland is a constitutional travesty and those actively involved should be ashamed. ’nuff said.) A person who can’t make it though that gauntlet doesn’t get the gig. It doesn’t matter who Hillary or Donald appoint if that appointee can’t get confirmed. Confirmation power lies in the Senate.

Two Appian Way Press Titles Now on @LogosPrePub!

@AppianWayPress blogs about my books on Logos Prepub.

Appian Way Press

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Appian Way Press have licensed Faithlife (makers of Logos Bible Software) to produce two of our titles for Logos Bible Software:

These titles are on Prepub with Faithlife (more info). That means if you’re interested, you commit to purchasing at the prepub price (which is Faithlife’s lowest possible price). If enough people commit, then the books are produced, and you are charged at time of delivery (and not before). If there isn’t enough interest, then the books aren’t produced.

We are really excited about this opportunity! And, as with all Appian Way Press books, all proceeds from sales go directly to support the Brannans and their adoption.

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My 1 Timothy Commentary on Prepub at Logos

BookCoverImage-LCPE-1TimEver since I published my First Timothy work in print with Appian Way Press, I have been asked about whether or not the commentary will be made available for Logos Bible Software. I’m happy to say today that it will be!

Lexical Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles: First Timothy at Logos.com

I’m excited about this because I think it is a unique and helpful commentary. But I’m really excited because, like the sales of all Appian Way Press books, all of the proceeds that I receive from the commentary sale will be used to support our adoption.

But proceeds from the Logos version are only realized if the book passes from pre-pub into production (more on the Logos prepub process). That means it would be awesome if you, your friends, and their friends all chip in $14.99 (cheaper than print!) to move this book into production.

Thanks, everyone, for your support of my writing endeavors and of our adoption of #3.

Endorsements for “Lexical Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles: First Timothy”

Rick Brannan has produced a robust and rigorous exegetical introduction to First Timothy. This book is a great guide to the nuances of the Greek text that interpreters need to grapple with as they attempt to interpret this letter. Whether it is women “saved through childbirth” or how “you will save both yourself and your hearers,” Brannan shows you what you need to know as you wrestle with First Timothy.

— Dr. Michael F. Bird, lecturer in theology, Ridley College, Melbourne, Australia

Rick Brannan’s methodology for these word studies in First Timothy opens new semantic vistas because he takes into account the usage of the Greek words in contemporary Koine works like the Pseudepigrapha and Josephus. Furthermore, he illustrates the “effective” use of these lexemes in the Apostolic Fathers as well. He is careful not to be guilty of anachronism in the latter practice but simply illustrates how the word was understood in Christian literature written soon after the Pastorals. In some ways, this is a ground-breaking approach that deserves serious consideration by other commentators on the sacred text.

—Dr. William Varner, professor of Bible and Greek, The Master’s College