Monthly Archives: May 2015

Reading Challenge #3: Hesiod’s Works and Days.

My summer reading list to prepare for the biblical studies M.A. spans everything from the Epic of Gilgamesh to the Qur’an.  To make some order out of the madness, I’m moving from one culture to the next.  Somewhat arbitrarily I’ve started with the Greeks.  Side benefit: this is also a great way to fill in the gaps in my classics reading; after all, I’m just about to graduate with a classics degree, so I should have read my Hesiod, Virgil, and Ovid!

41XitGpe1aL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I’ve already written about Hesiod’s Theogony.  As I mentioned, Hesiod wrote during the Archaic age of Greek history, around 700 B.C.E.  While the Theogony focuses on the gods and their interactions, the Works and Days takes its cue from the world of humans. The poem is addressed to Hesiod’s brother, Perses, who seems to have committed some kind of injustice against Hesiod.  From this prosaic beginning, Hesiod moves into grand mythological speculation on the nature of humanity and justice, narrating the myths of Pandora and the four ages of mankind.  He also includes many lines of proverbs praising justice and giving advice for tending a household.  The poem ends with a farmer’s almanac of advice on planting crops and setting sail, what days of the month are best for various actions, etc.

As regards these days, fortunate and prosperous is he who knows all these things and does his work guiltless before the deathless ones, sorting out the birds and avoiding excesses. (135)

What did I get out of this book?

  1. Hesiod’s ages of man myth charts the move from gold to silver to bronze to heroic demigods to iron men, each one successively inferior to the one before it.  Each race of men is a bit further from being gods.  Two interesting things here: first, the parallels to Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 2:32-34; each dream narrates stages of human decline.  Second, many allusions in Homer suggest that Achilles and Hector are living in the age of heroic demigods.  Even Homer’s humanity is superior to ours!  I find it interesting how many cultures have these myths of a primordial fall.  Perhaps it functions as a theodicy to explain the gap between the noble characters of myth and the messy world the myth’s audience lives in.
  2. In lines 11-26, Hesiod details the two kinds of strife (eris): the good one that motivates men to war, and the bad one that motivates men to perform better to outdo their neighbor.  Ancient Greek culture is known for being competitive.  Even literature (epic and drama) was competitive, and the honors of victory were always limited to the best (aristoi).  But here Hesiod seems to be aware that competition can only take place in a context of broader collaboration, i.e. civilization.  Complete competition leads to warfare, which destroys society and makes men worse.  We see this in our own lives, in everything from baseball to Dungeons and Dragons (yes, I have played!): competition only makes us better if we play by the rules.
  3. This edition of the Works and Days includes a commentary by David W. Tandy and Walter C. Neale, respectively a classical philologist and an economic historian.  They read the Works and Days as “a response to the arrival of a new political and economic structure in the early archaic period (750-480 BCE)” (xiii).  Far from Homer’s world of nobility, the narrator of Works and Days adopts the persona of a poor peasant.  He frequently mentions the fact that kings (basilees) simply don’t care about their subjects, and bitterly complains about the debt that poor farmers and peasants like him are trapped into by their lack of economic security.  In Tandy and Neale’s reading, Hesiod’s response to the new world of trade and prosperity in the archaic age is frustration that the peripheral peasants are not gaining any of this wealth.  Just the opposite: as traditional economic patterns break down with the expansion of trade, peasants lose, as surplus crops go outside the community rather than back to the community (37).

I really like this edition of Hesiod.  These two scholars really brought their areas of expertise together into an interesting interdisciplinary exploration.  My only complaint with this edition is the translation.  Tandy and Neale render Hesiod into prose.  Hesiod, like Homer, is in dactylic hexameter, but that is totally lost here.  I’m not a fan of prose translations of verse.  Of course verse can never be adequately rendered, but prose translations just admit defeat at the start rather than trying.  So I would use this edition for its valuable historic and economic information, but not for its translation.

Next up: the Homeric hymns!

Reading Challenge #2: Hesiod’s Theogony.

Although I have done some study of Greek mythology in my Classics major, I don’t think I have ever read Hesiod for fun on my own.  Hesiod seemed like a good place to start on Greek sources for my summer reading project.  After two quarters of Homer, I’m pretty familiar with Odysseus and Achilles, but a little less so with Kronos and Rhea!

azure_436798d597a09aa55ce959e2ebe92f46Hesiod wrote during the 8th century BCE, in the Archaic period of Greek history.  His is the time of Homer, before the Classical Age of Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes.  We know nothing solid about him, though his own poetry claims that he was a shepherd who received verses from the Muses.  We have two works left from him: the Theogony, which provides a creation myth and family tree of the Greek gods, and the Works and Days, an agricultural almanac and advice collection.

The Theogony opens with a paean to the Muses, Hesiod’s inspirations, then moves quickly into the story of creation from Chaos, Gaia, Tartaros, and Eros; the succession of divine kingship from Okeanos to Kronos to Zeus; the battle of the Titans; Zeus’ children with his three wives; and various other stories of gods and goddesses.

What did I get out of the Theogony?

  1. Hesiod’s work has several Near Eastern parallels.  I have already mentioned connections with Canaanite myths of divine kingship and its usurpation.  In his introduction, Caldwell relates this aspect of Hesiod to the Babylonian Enuma Elish (also on my summer reading list!).  Caldwell suspects that the Greek theogonic tradition, based in turn on an Indo-European tradition, received infuence from Near Eastern peoples during the Bronze Age, Dark Age, and Archaic Age (21).  So there is more connection between Greece and its neighbors than a simple reading of Hesiod alone would suggest.
  2. Anxiety about kingship and succession in Greece — in order for one god to have power, another must be put down.  Zeus must defeat his father, Kronos, to become king of the gods.  Unlike modern America where we think (as good capitalists) that wealth can be generated to make everyone wealthy, ancient Greeks tended to see wealth, honor, and other goods as limited, so that one man’s success is intimately tied with another’s loss.  We see this in the Iliad, where mighty warriors on the same army battle one another for the spoils of war.
  3. The role of eros or love — Hesiod places Eros at the beginning of creation as one of the fundamental generative forces of the cosmos.  Fittingly so, given that Eros in humans leads to babies.  But he also places Love with Deceit, and includes the myth of Pandora, who unleashes great evils into the world.  The Greeks did not have a romantic or idealized view of love, but a fatalistic one, seeing Eros as a destructive force as well as a powerful generative force.  I wonder how much Paul’s suspicion of marriage in 1 Corinthians, for example, echoes this kind of suspicion of Eros in general.

Caldwell’s commentary is very useful, though I didn’t read his idiosyncratic psychoanalytic essay on the Greek gods.  I’m still working through some Egyptian literature, and hope to tackle Works and Days after this.

 

Reading Challenge #1: Stories from Ancient Canaan.

In three weeks I graduate with my BA in Classics and Religious Studies.  This fall I hope to begin an MA in Biblical Languages, in preparation for an eventual PhD.  The plan is to start part-time this fall then transition into full-time next spring.

I’m very excited.

For many years I have known I wanted to be a scholar.  When I realized I was called to biblical studies, it was like a sudden click.  I had been preparing for this for years without even realizing it.  (You’d think a couple years of Greek and Hebrew would have tipped me off…)  Mostly I am interested in looking at the Bible through the lens of intercultural and interreligious exchange and dialogue.  A weird part of me is considering focusing on intertextuality between the Bible and the Qur’an.

Anyway, as preparation, I’ve prepared a summer reading list of primary sources in the Ancient Near Eastern and Greco-Roman worlds, Second Temple Judaism, and early Christianity.  Of course I plan to read the whole Bible. The list draws from graduate reading lists and other bloggers’ advice, especially Ben Blackwell and Michael Bird.  I’m using BookHabit and the Bible Companion App on my phone to track my reading.  As I read each book, I’ll post some thoughts on it here.

Book Review #1: Stories From Ancient Canaan, ed. Michael Coogan

51loCb-rcVL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Coogan gathers here several stories discovered on 14th-century BCE clay tablets in cuneiform from Ugarit.  These stories tell us about the slaughter of Aqhat, King Danel’s son, at the hands of Anat, the goddess of love and war; King Kirta’s need to sire a son and the challenge his son later offers to his kingship; and the infamous Baal’s quest to become king of the gods over El.  Coogan translated these stories as a teaching text, so his introductions to each story really helped me understand the opaque cultural references and fill in some of the gaps of missing text from lost portions of each story.  Coogan is himself a biblical scholar, and his notes constantly make reference to biblical parallels.

A few things I got out of these stories:

  1. There are many literary techniques in common between ancient Israelite and ancient Canaanite writings.  Most important is parallelism, in which “a single idea is expressed in units of two or three lines … by repetition, synonyms, or antonyms” (15).  Some of the symbolic numbers in these stories, such as seven as a unit of time, also appear in biblical literature.
  2. Reading Canaanite literature helps us better understand some of the references to God in the Hebrew Bible.  Many of the titles for God in Israel were borrowed from Canaan.  For example, the title “El Shaddai,” which Coogan takes to mean “God of the mountain,” makes sense because the Canaanite El lived on a mountain.
  3. There are a lot of interesting thematic parallels regarding kingship between Israelite, Canaanite, and Greco-Roman literature.  For example, the storm-god Baal conquering the sky-god El and taking his primary position in the pantheon is similar to Zeus’ takeover of his father Kronos’ position as head god.  On the human level, King Kirta’s son Yassib challenged his father’s right to rule, claiming that he was incompetent and should step down.  This is similar to David’s sons Absalom and Adonijah trying to take over their father’s reign before his death.  This does not necessarily indicate direct literary borrowing, but points to common problems in the ancient Near East and Mediterranean in monarchy and succession.  Different cultures struggling with similar problems of power might come up with similar literary themes.

Reading this Canaanite literature gives us a glimpse of Baal, El, and Asherah, so maligned in the Bible, on their own terms.  Plus the stories are just really cool.

Next up: Hesiod’s Theogony!

 

Review: Commentaries on Plato’s Crito and Euthyphro.

This past quarter I read Plato’s Crito and Euthyphro in Greek.  My classmate Brian pointed out that this was the first time we’ve ever finished a work in Greek — previous classes on Herodotus and Homer clearly didn’t offer that satisfaction, and even when we read Euripides’ Medea we only got through about 2/3-3/4 of it.  This quarter’s plan was to read the two dialogues above, but we actually finished before the quarter ended, and got to read Aristophanes’ speech from the Symposium as a treat.

I thought it would be helpful for other Greek students to review the three commentaries we used this quarter: John Burnet’s 1924 critical edition with notes, Chris Emlyn-Jones’ Bristol Classical Press commentaries, and the Bryn Mawr Commentaries on each dialogue.  Obviously, I am not a Plato scholar, so I can’t assess how accurate and current each commentary is on Platonic scholarship.  But I can speak from my experience as a member of each commentary’s target audience: an intermediate student of Classical Greek.  Since it would be impossible to analyze every detail of all three, here I use a test case from the Euthyphro to generalize about all three commentaries and their series.

A Test Case: Euthyphro 10e9-11a3

In this passage Socrates concludes the argument that began in 10a about the difference between something being carried and somebody carrying something.  Clearly, the action comes before the state: something is carried because someone carries it, not vice versa.  In 10e9-11a3, Socrates crowns this line of reasoning by pointing out that Crito cannot equate piety with being god-loved, because, according to Crito’s logic, something’s being pious makes it beloved by the gods, so defining piety and beloved by the gods is circular reasoning.  Here Socrates plays with the distinction between φιλεῖσθαι and ἐφιλεῖτο, between “to be loved” and “someone loves it” (the middle voice cannot be rendered into English).  This is one of the most convoluted and difficult to translate passages of this dialogue:

ἀλλ᾽ εἴ γε ταὐτὸν ἦν, ὦ φίλε Εὐθύφρων, τὸ θεοφιλὲς καὶ τὸ ὅσιον, εἰ μὲν διὰ τὸ ὅσιον εἶναι ἐφιλεῖτο τὸ ὅσιον, καὶ διὰ τὸ θεοφιλὲς εἶναι ἐφιλεῖτο ἂν τὸ θεοφιλές, εἰ δὲ διὰ τὸ φιλεῖσθαι ὑπὸ θεῶν τὸ θεοφιλὲς θεοφιλὲς ἦν, καὶ τὸ ὅσιον ἂν διὰ τὸ φιλεῖσθαι ὅσιον ἦν:

G.M.A. Grube translates it:

But if the god-beloved and the pious were the same, my dear Euthyphro, and the pious were loved because it was pious, then the god-beloved would be loved because it was god-beloved, and if the god-beloved was god-beloved because it was loved by the gods, then the pious would also be pious because it was loved by the gods…

A real headache-inducer in any language!

John Burnet

John Burnet’s critical edition and commentary on Plato’s Apology, Crito, and Euthyphro is the starting-point for the other commentaries, which both rely on his text.  Though he was one of the foremost Plato scholars of his day, by now his references to Plato scholarship are dated, since his text was published in 1924.  But his philological help is still good, and he also gives text-critical notes, which the other two do not focus on.  Judge for yourself:

Burnet1

Burnet2
But one major frustration with Burnet is that he often assumes a higher level of Greek than most of his readers would have nowadays.  We don’t see it here, but sometimes he will throw out a phrase such as “Archilochus writes that…” and quote the Greek of another author as if we have read him and know the work well.  Because of this, Burnet’s commentary is not enough for an intermediate Greek student to read Plato without a teacher.

Chris Emlyn-Jones’ Bristol Classical Press commentaries

Chris Emlyn-Jones, who wrote BCP’s commentaries on both Crito and Euthyphro, is a British classicist.  His texts come complete with lengthy introductions providing a guide to the arguments in each dialogue and some of the key contemporary scholarship.  His commentary provides some philological help, but more often focuses on the argument itself.

CEJ1

CEJ2

I really liked using Emlyn-Jones’ commentaries because they helped with the arguments more than the other two.  But having used the Bristol Classical Press commentaries on Homer’s Odyssey last year, I don’t think this is a general feature of the whole series, as those ones were more philological in nature.  In sum, if I were only using this commentary, I don’t think I would have been able to read the Euthyphro very well.

Bryn Mawr Greek Commentaries

John Hare‘s commentary on Euthyphro and Gilbert Rose‘s commentary on Crito are both much shorter, and geared strictly toward philology.  I had never used a Bryn Mawr Commentary before but this appears to be the modus operandi of the whole series.

Hare1

Hare2

Of all three commentaries, this was the best for understand some of the linguistic oddities of the text itself.  He helps parse unusual verb forms, explains messy syntax, and gives rough translations when necessary.

Conclusions

Which commentary should you buy?  All three, of course!  Each has different strengths.  Burnet’s is good for the text of Plato.  The Bryn Mawr commentaries were the most invaluable in actually reading Plato.  Emlyn-Jones’ were the most important for understanding Plato.  What’s more, while writing this review I also encountered Jacques Bailly’s commentary on Euthyphro for Focus Classical Commentaries, so there are at least four commentaries.  This is good news for anyone who is trying to read Plato without a teacher.

Onward and upward!

Conferences and Reflections, part two.

Continuing my last post on some of the conferences I’ve attended and talks I’ve heard recently…

Between Two Worlds: Syncretism and Alterity in Art (San Jose State Art History Symposium)

On April 18, I had the opportunity to present my ongoing research on Herakles in Gandharan art to an audience of art history graduate students and the public.  This was my first experience presenting at a graduate symposium.  Given the call for papers, I thought I would be the token antiquarian, but in fact 2/6 of the talks and the keynote address were all on ancient or medieval art.  Three of the talks stuck with me.

11150340_883520115040134_5455722449830666202_n

Yours truly with the ponytail.

The first, “Princesses from the Land of Porcelain: Gender, Culture, and ‘Other’ Issues in the 19th-century Japonaiserie,” was given by Darlene Martin, an art history PhD student at UW.  She described several French painters who eroticized and exoticized the image of the geisha in Romantic art.  Collections of Japanese objects, such as the kimono and tea ceremony paraphernalia, became popular subjects of art.  One of her conclusions was that these European men were projecting an idealized femininity — passive, quiet, subservient, sexualized — onto Japan, a femininity they in fact wanted in their own lands.  I’m always interested in Western fictions about the “Orient” so this talk was really interesting to me.

The keynote speaker, Maria Evangelatou, is a professor of Byzantine art at UCSC.  She spoke on “From iconoclasm to iconogenesis: religious conflict and visual syncretism in the Late Antique and Medieval Mediterranean,” providing case studies of visual and religious syncretism in Byzantine art.  I was able to follow her erudite talk in large part because I took a class on the topic last year.  She spent much time responding to Thomas Mathews’ The Clash of Gods:  a Reinterpretation of Early Christian Art, a book that shook up the whole field by reinterpreting much early Christian art not in the framework of Roman imperial iconography, but Roman pagan iconography.  Evangelatou found that in fact, both types of iconography are present in early Christian art.  She also looked at later examples of Christian-Muslim syncretism in late antiquity and the early medieval era.  Syncretism, she concluded, is never one-dimensional, and presupposes and maintains alterity.  I’m still thinking about that last point.

After lunch, Ema Kubo Thomas, a graduate student from SFSU, spoke on “Living Images of Early Modern Japan: The Japanese Catholic Adaption of Buddhist Icons.”  She found parallels between the art of the hidden Christians of Japan and art of Amida Buddha, the central figure of Pure Land Buddhism in Japan.  Not only were the styles of art similar, but their ritual uses were similar, including rituals of blessing and the deity entering the the icon for religious use.  She concluded that these images display Christian contents with a Buddhist visual lexicon.  Given the hidden Christians’ complete lack of contact with the outside world, it makes sense that they developed such a distinct style of art.

I was totally exhausted the day of the symposium.  Thankfully it was local, so I went home and slept immediately afterwards!  I’m glad I was able to give the speech extemporaneously, rather than reading off of a paper as is common in academic venues.  I don’t get the perfect phrasing I would reading a prepared speech, but I think I engage the audience more by walking around and speaking in a more conversation style.  I always worry I sound less professional, but after the symposium, other speakers commented that they really appreciated how I spoke.  A small victory.

Between Constantinople and Rome: An Illuminated Byzantine Gospel Book (Paris gr. 54) and the Union of Churches, Kathleen Maxwell at SCU

Last spring I took Byzantine art at SCU with Kathleen Maxwell, who specialized in Byzantine illuminated manuscripts.  She has been studying one complex ms. for 30 years, and has just released her massive book on it (reviews here and here), discussed also at Evangelical Textual Criticism.  Eta Sigma Phi, the classics honors society at my college, talked her into coming and speaking on this ridiculously complex text.

This manuscript of the four gospels has several weird features:

  1. It is huge — 30% bigger than most Byzantine mss.
  2. It is bilingual — Greek and Latin.
  3. The illuminations and the Latin text are both unfinished.
  4. The Latin text does not sync up with the Greek text.  The Latin writer often put in nonsense words (“mamamamama”) to make it look like the two columns were in sync.
  5. The illuminations and the text come from different sources — Athos Iviron 5 and Princeton Garrett 3.
  6. The text is polychromatic, i.e. the author uses different colors for different speakers in the gospels.

Maxwell first tackled this manuscript for her 1986 PhD, which was more from an art-historical angle focusing on the illuminations.  She described how she branched out into different fields after her dissertation, including textual criticism to find the source of the Greek text and Byzantine history to locate the text.  She traces the text to the reign of Michael VII Paleologus (1261-1282), who sought to reunify the Greek and Latin churches.  This seems to have been a gift for Pope Gregory X to help the process.  The process failed and Michael VII was excommunicated, hence the unfinished state of the manuscript.

One comment that Maxwell made really sticks with me.  She mentioned that text critics ignore the illuminations, and art historians ignore the text in favor of the illuminations, but she has found that she needed to understand both to fully study the text.  I really like how she moved out of her own training into text criticism and ecclesiastical history to understand this text from multiple angles.  Sometimes we need a reminder that our disciplinary boundaries don’t exist for the materials we study.  Map is not territory.  Those creating illuminated manuscripts integrated them as art and text — it is only our modern scholarship that divides the two.

Onwards and upwards!

 

Conferences and Reflections, part one.

This past month and a half, I haven’t had time to breathe, let alone blog.  Before it all slips from my mind, I wanted to jot down some of the talks and conferences I’ve been to and what I got out of them.

Medieval Association of the Pacific

This conference, which took place in Reno about a month ago, let me present my research on Francis to an audience of historians rather than theologians.  Since my research encompasses both, I enjoyed getting a more historical focus.  The first talk I went to, “Criseyde Becomes Cresseid Becomes Criseyde: Chaucer’s, Henryson’s, and 16th-century English Printers’ Negotiation of Shared Literary Space,” was given by Jacquelyn Hendricks, my own Chaucer professor at SCU.  She spoke on how Scottish retellings of Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde fashioned his language in a more Scottish colloquial English.  I hadn’t learned much about Middle English dialectical variations, so that was interesting.  UNR’s Special Collections also had an exhibit for all the antiquarians and bibliophiles in town.IMG_7588They passed around several leafs of medieval manuscripts, but the jewel of the collection was the Hughes Breviary, a 15th-century breviary and psalter.  (More on it here.)

IMG_7592

That afternoon, I lucked out since one of the speakers in my session failed to appear.  So the other presenter and I had a lot more time for questions and discussion.  The other presenter, Doaa Omran, is an Egyptian-born student of medieval European literature at UNM.  She spoke on parallels between the European and Arabic medieval tales on King Arthur.  I didn’t even know that was a thing.  The Arabic King Arthur (his Arabic name now slips my mind) lived in the 500s, and he united Arab tribes against invading Christians.  Like the European King Arthur, the Arab one is the product of a long oral tradition, culminating in a 14th-century epic poem about the nationalist hero.  If that isn’t cool enough, the story also includes a prophecy about Muhammad’s birth.  However, none of the Lancelot/Guinevere stuff made its way into the Arab version.

My talk went very well.  The toughest question I was asked in my Q&A: was Francis unique for his time in how he approached other religions?  My preliminary answer is no.  But it was one of those obvious questions that I hadn’t even thought about.  Duh.

The evening plenary by Teo Ruiz, “Peasant Resistance in Late Medieval Castile,” probably would have been better for my fiance (the Spanish history buff) than for me.  But Ruiz was funny and really interesting.  He mentioned living as a peasant in a Spanish village for a year when he was writing a book on peasants in Spain; he wanted to feel what a peasant’s life was like.  Wow.

A month later, two talks from Saturday still stand out in my mind.  One is Leslie Ross‘ “Elegant to Enigmatic: Text and Image in Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts.”  I met Leslie and her friend, Becket scholar Kay Slocum, at the banquet on Friday evening, and she said I should come hear her talk.  She spoke on the complex interplay between text and image in illuminated manuscripts, how image did far more than simply ornament or illustrate, and that the two are often not separate at all.  For example, what about the ornate capital letters that open many medieval manuscripts?  Those are both art and image.  She showed examples of decorative letters that seemed to have no meaning at all.

The evening plenary, “By That Fatal Fire: Manuscripts in the Aftermath of Destruction,” was given by Sian Echard, a professor at UBC.  She examined several cases where we do not have originals of a particular document, but copies, copies that are always distorting and miss something of the original.  We know what gets lost in translation, but what gets lots in transcription?  Even today, she pointed out, digitization techniques distort the original colors of medieval manuscripts.  All copies are interpretations or encounters.  If we forget this, we mistake the mirror for the reality.

As a last note, I met a real live Viking Archaeologist at the conference.  Now there’s a sexy research area if I ever heard of one.  Check out her blog.

I’m glad I went to the MAP, because it exposed me to a lot of ideas and thinkers I really knew nothing about.  For any academic field, there are always the core conferences where we go are in our comfort zone.  For me that would be SBL.  But there is also a value and vulnerability in going to a place where I am an outsider and an amateur rather than an expert.  I hope to keep that a habit.

 

State of the Projects, May 2015.

As I entered the spring quarter of my senior year, I thought this would be a light quarter.  I expected I would take a semester off and apply to start graduate school next January.

At the start of the quarter, I spoke with the director of the graduate program to which I am applying and was informed that I should apply NOW, as the program might be restructured or even eliminated this fall.  Yikes!  Between that and the wedding planning, this quarter has turned out to be the maddest I’ve had.  So much for senior year relaxation.

Either way, my application for the MA in Biblical Languages at the Jesuit School of Theology/Graduate Theological Union is in!

Another thing that took more time than I thought this quarter were the public speaking engagements I signed up for.  From February through May, I have given nine talks at various venues, including three academic conferences and a local graduate symposium.  Probably the most exciting was getting to give a keynote speech for the Bay Area Honors Symposium, a research conference for community college students in honors programs.  I spoke on my experience as a community college honors student to over 100 people!  This has been great for public speaking skills, but whew!  I am wiped out.

Francis and the Sultan

This past Monday I turned in my senior paper on Francis and the Sultan, and presented it to my university’s Medieval and Renaissance Studies program.  It feels good to be done.  This summer I am hoping to revise it into a journal article for Spiritus.

4QXII

I have been surprisingly productive on this project!  I’ve found at least one hour a week to work on this research assistant job.  Right now I am compiling a chart of citations of or allusions to the Book of the Twelve in all Qumran literature.  Tedious work, but given that our project charts textual variants in the Book of the Twelve at Qumran, we want to see how the book varies among Qumran texts.  Yesterday my professor, Catherine Murphy, and I presented the fruits of our labor to the classics department.

Languages

Sadly, I’m not getting much Hebrew practice this quarter.  But in my second quarter of studying Homer, my facility and fluidity with Homeric Greek is really growing.  We just finished Book I of the Iliad and are now moving rapidly through Book IX.  Despite three years of Greek, I’ve done almost no Koine Greek, I’ve also arranged to receive some Koine tutoring this summer from The Patrologist.

One month out from graduation!  People tell me they look forward to me walking the stage, but I think at this pace I’ll be crawling!