Want to Meet at SBL in Boston?

Boston-Bonner-MapUpdate (2017-09-11): Due to a family situation, I will not be attending SBL in Boston this November.

The past two years (2016, 2015) I’ve advertised my desire to meet with just about anyone (well, except Jim West) at the annual SBL national meeting.

This year is no different. I’d enjoy meeting with you and chatting about whatever, whether it is in passing, over coffee, over a meal, or after a session.

Why would you want to meet with me? I can think of four reasons.

Reason One: I’m buying. Let’s be clear, I’m asking you, you’re not asking me. So I’m happy to get the coffee, meal, snack, or whatever. What are you waiting for?

Reason Two: My Job at Faithlife/Logos. I manage a team at Faithlife that does really cool stuff developing and utilizing Bible data. We speak Python, Django, C#, XML, SQL, JSON, and a bunch of other stuff (Ancient Languages, Linguistics, Grammar, Syntax, managing data, and more). Are you at the intersection of code, data, and the Bible? Then let’s talk. Remember: The scholar best set up for the future is the one who can manage all sorts of data; if you want to talk more about that with me, I’m game.

What is the ultimate Bible data you want or need access to? I want to know about it. If you’ve got a plan for it, I want you to pitch me on it — at minimum your elevator pitch, but more if you want.

Reason Three: My Publications. In short, I’m familiar with a wide array of data, a wide variety of editing and publishing tasks, and have worked pretty much the whole “stack” as regards creating and working with Bible data. I’ve likely got experience at multiple levels with the thing you’re focusing on in Biblical studies. That, or I know someone who does.

I’ve translated and interlinearized the writings of the Apostolic Fathers. I’ve translated, introduced, and edited available Greek Apocryphal Gospels, including basic transcriptions and translations of fragmentary material. I’ve done major work on conceiving, preparing, and editing an edition of the Greek New Testament (SBLGNT). I’ve done similar work on a Bible translation (Lexham English Bible) and served as general editor of a translation of the Septuagint (Lexham English Septuagint). I’ve written a commentary (Lexical Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles: First Timothy), a discourse handbook (Second Thessalonians in the Lexham Discourse Handbook), and written the NT portion of a textual commentary geared toward the English reader (Lexham Textual Notes). I’ve written a regular column on Ancient Christian Writers for Bible Study Magazine for years. I’ve assembled data for several reverse interlinears published by Faithlife/Logos. I’ve created data tracking over 300,000 intertextual units across several datasets (Church Fathers, Second Temple materials, Judaica) as well as data reflecting intertextuality between the Old Testament (and Deuterocanon) and New Testament. I’ve extracted and transformed scads of text-critical data to create several “Manuscript Explorer” interactives. I’ve analyzed the context of over 1,000,000 Bible references in Systematic Theologies. Heck, I even grunted out an analysis of Hebrew Cantillation data.

Reason Four: I really dig this stuff. Chances are I’ll be interested in and maybe even have experience with the thing that you’re studying, dissertating, or examining.

Just respond (email is fine, rick at faithlife dot com) so we can get it on the calendar. I’m in Boston from Nov 17 through Nov 20, I believe. Let’s do it.


SBL 2017 Paper: Sounding Biblical: The Use of Stock Phrases in Christian Apocrypha

Update (2017-09-11): Due to a family situation, I will not be attending SBL in Boston this November. This paper will likely be presented at a future SBL.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, my proposal for the open Christian Apocrypha session was accepted. I described it to a friend like this: “Hey, I snuck a corpus linguistics paper into the Christian Apocrypha section!”

Here’s the abstract for those interested:

There are certain phrases that, due to familiarity and usage, seem biblical upon hearing or reading them. That is, they sound like language used in the Bible. Phrases like “in the beginning,” “all the creeping things that creep,” and “truly, I say to you.” This paper uses a variation on what are known as n-grams to isolate stock phrases and explore their use and effect in apocryphal works. The First Apocryphal Apocalypse of John (1AAJn), which the author is presently researching for volume 2 of the “More New Testament Apocrypha” project, is used as a test case. The entirety of the Septuagint and Greek New Testament are used to identify five-word clusters of shared vocabulary that repeat with some frequency in biblical literature (“stock phrases”). 1AAJn is then compared to the biblical literature to locate possible stock phrase usage within 1AAJn. If time and space permit, Greek editions of other writings (Apocryphal Gospels, Apostolic Fathers, possibly some non-Christian writings) will also be evaluated at a high level to determine use or non-use of stock phrases in composition.


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!