Saturday, March 28, 2009

So, I've sold out

Since about 2007 my particular interests have shifted away from doing work strictly in New Testament and have moved more towards New Testament and Early Christianity (both its history and theology). I've even considered changing the name of the blog or starting an entirely different blog all together, though I don't think that's necessary. I'm still deeply interested in New Testament scholarship and I think that interest is pertinent to my interests in the early Church. However, I think that studying Early Christian History (or Patristics or whatever title is given to it) allows me to have my cake and eat it too. It allows me to explore my interests in philosophy, history, textual criticism, New Testament, etc. It's a field in which I think I could do well and one in which I would feel entirely comfortable.

This fall I will be applying to graduate programs that reflect my more current interests. I'm most interested in Duke's Early Christian History program for a variety of reasons. I'd love to study Coptic with Zlatko Plese at UNC, do textual criticism with Ehrman, learn Syriac with Lukas Van Rompay, learn about Origen with Liz Clark, learn about Gregory of Nyssa with Smith, and - certainly not a minor reason - I would love to study with Duke's outstanding NT faculty. An interest I have never been able to shake is the Synoptic problem and though I realize Mark Goodacre is a multi-faceted scholar, to study that with him would be amazing.

Other places I'm looking at are, of course, Notre Dame (Brian Daley's work is very interesting and they have amazing funding), Yale (but, for some reason, I think I have no chance there...ever), UVA (Though Wilken is retiring, the work that Kovacs and Gamble are doing is very interesting), and a few others.

I'm going to be applying to both Ph.D programs and Masters programs. If you read this blog, you know there's no reason I should go straight into a Ph.D program, but perhaps I can hoodwink an admissions committee into thinking I'm smart enough. So, for the next few months, on top of little ideas I have, I'm going to be blogging about preparation for applications and such. If any of you have wisdom to bestow, let me have it.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Traduttore Traditore

Quite the funny quote:

Translators have long been an undervalued race: one of them remarked bitterly
that with the exception of the wages of sin the wages of translation are the worst in the whole market.

E. R. Dodds, Missing Persons: An Autobiography (Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 1977), 174.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Margaret M. Mitchell on St. John Chrysostom

Mitchell's book The Heavenly Trumpet: John Chrysostom and the Art of Pauline Interpretation is an absolutely fascinating read. On a personal note, I find the ancient way of reading texts more refreshing and far more interesting. I've yet to have to wade through 100 pages of an ancient redaction theory before any kind of commentary is provided. Academically, I enjoy reading these texts because of the light it sheds on ancient epistolary theory and hermeneutics in general. Consider Chrysostom's comment on the "inexperienced" reader reading a text:

και επιστολην ο μεν απειρος λαβων, χαρτην ηγησεται και μελαν ειναι. ο δε εμπειδος και φωνης αχοθσεται, και διαλεξεται τω αποντι.

"The inexperienced reader when taking up a letter will consider it to be papyrus and ink; but the experienced reader will both hear a voice, and converse with the one who is absent."[1]

According to Mitchell, it was common to see a letter as a conversation between the reader and the author.

Most interesting in Chrysostom's "author-centered hermeneutic"[2] is the idea of imitation. Essentially, Chrysostom is the best interpreter of Paul because of how much he loves Paul. Chrysostom states that one should look to Paul as a "αρχετυπος ειχων", an archetypal image. This is the "accurate portrait from which copies are to be made."[3] Paul served as the examplar into which Chrysostom tried to mold himself. Mitchell states that imitation is the ultimate goal, and that creating a portrait from the text is the task of hermeneutics.

[1] Margaret M. Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet: John Chrysostom and the Art of Pauline Interpretation (Louisville: WJK Press, 2002) 49 (quoted from hom. In 1 Cor. 7.2 [61.56])
[2] Ibid
[3] Ibid