Tag Archives: State of the Projects

(Belated) State of the Projects: March 2016.

The last two months have been productive in my scholarly life. At least that’s my excuse for not blogging!

First, I’ve been seeing some very nice rewards for the work I have done. The print copies of my first two academic articles came in. It’s very satisfying to see my name in print (yay!). Also, I’ve gotten some good (I think) writing out on other blogs: a post about Star Wars on Sacred Matters, and a post on Christian-Muslim dialogue and apologetics at Christian Apologetics Alliance.

One of the benefits of blogging for me is learning to make points clearly and concisely. Let me tell you: some academics couldn’t write their way out of a paper bag. I’m talking five-clause sentences with parenthetical asides. One-clause sentences are nice. It also teaches me to not expect written perfection. Save that for a book. A blog post is meant to be ephemeral.

Second, speaking of books, my effort to get the writings of my Jesuit friend, the late George Kennard, is coming to an end. George always told me he wanted me to finish his book. Always nice when a friend gives you an impossible task. The book being published is not the magnum opus of cognitive science, linguistics, epistemology, and Vatican II that he wanted to write, but a selection of sermons, speeches, articles, and biographical writings. I’m awaiting the printers’ proof now.

Third, last month, I went to a conference in Michigan to discuss my pet project, The Saint John’s Bible. I looked at some of the Gospels illuminations in the light of Jewish-Christian dialogue. I wrote about my experience at the conference for the blog of the Center for Arts, Religion, and Education (CARE) at my home school, the GTU. It was everything one could want in a conference: great company, great talks, left feeling energized.

I gave my talk again for CARE on Friday. Eight people came, including three of my friends. With the feedback from Michigan fresh in my mind, I did a lot of work to revise my paper. I think it went well.

This conference convinced me of one major thing. I had thought of my work with The Saint John’s Bible as a side project to my real interest in scripture and interreligious dialogue. This conference knocked me out of that mindset. At several of the talks, I noticed things that the speaker didn’t notice—mainly because none of the other speakers had the opportunity to show this Bible to hundreds of people. Showing this Bible has helped me see how the symbols and motifs repeat, how this Bible creates a fresh visual lexicon in biblical art.

Fourthclasses at the Graduate Theological Union are going well. I am taking Race and Ethnicity in the New Testament, a seminar on Jeremiah, Christian Iconography, a reading course on Surat al-Baqara (Surah 2), the longest surah in the Qur’an, and a seminar on papyrology (how to read, work with ancient papyri) at Cal.

All the madness of conferencing out of the way, I can now focus on class again. And most of all, of course, focus on my wife. We just celebrated six months. 🙂

State of the Projects, March 2015.

Taking my cue from The Patrologist, I’ve decided to do an update every month on my current projects.  This is a good way to keep myself honest.

Francis and the Sultan

francissultanI’m writing a thesis for my Medieval and Renaissance Studies minor on Francis’ encounter with the Sultan Malek al-Kamil in the Fifth Crusade.  Essentially I’m arguing against many who would see the historical Francis as a lover of Islam and practitioner of interreligious dialogue.  Instead I find the Francis of interreligious dialogue in his analysis of power, in his Canticle of the Creatures.  This is a fun project because it lets me bring together many fields: history and theology, the hermeneutics of retrieving models from a spiritual tradition, the intricacies of textual analysis related to the Franciscan Question, scholarship on the Crusades, and interreligious dialogue and activism today.

I’ve got a solid outline now, and I’ll be refining it presenting at both the American Academy of Religion, Western Region later this month and the Medieval Association of the Pacific in April.  I figure if I want to be a scholar, the best way to do that is to act like one now.  Eventually I hope to submit this work to two journals, one more historically focused, the other more aimed at interreligious dialogue.

Gandharan Art Research

Last month I finally submitted my classics thesis, “When Herakles Went to India: The Transformation of a Greco-Roman Hero-God in Buddhist Art.”  In it I discuss the iconography of Herakles and Vajrapani, the bodyguard of the Buddha, in Gandharan art from modern-day Pakistan from the 1st-5th centuries CE.  I’ve become so inspired by this I hope to do more work on it in graduate school.  This project has been on hold, but I am presenting it at the American Academy of Religion, Pacific Northwest Region later this month and at an art history symposium, “Between Two Worlds: Syncretism and Alterity in Art” at San Jose State University next month.


Although I stopped doing Latin in December, this has been a productive languages quarter for me in school.  I’ve been reading Plato’s Crito and Euthyphro in Greek, and wrote a paper on translating the Crito.  (I hope to review the textbooks for that class on here.)  In Hebrew this quarter I read Hosea 13-14, Joel, Obadiah, parts of Deuteronomy, and Lamentations 1.  I also continued in my work with Catherine Murphy as a research assistant on her textual criticism of a Book of the Twelve scroll from Qumran.

Not Happening

I hope to get back to my Jesus in India work this summer and eventually publish a journal article on it.  The same goes for the small book I’m trying to put together of my friend Fr. George Kennard’s unpublished writings.

The rest of March and much of April will be taken up with conference presentations — four of them, two local.  So at least I know where I will be.