Updates

Top 10 Books of 2019 (and all the others)

As a professor, it probably comes as no surprise that I enjoy reading. It kind of comes with the territory. Then again, maybe some who read this post will be surprised at the somewhat random nature of the things I do read once you have a look below. There is a reason for that.

In my college and graduate years, I rarely read for pleasure. I simply didn’t think I had the time, so I focused on going deep with my assigned reading. There was nothing inherently wrong with that and, to be sure, I learned a lot with that approach. But I also missed out on a lot, since it is absolutely not the case that I (or you) don’t have the time for pleasure reading. Thankfully, I realized that early on in my doctoral years. That’s when I rediscovered my love of reading broadly — and as my whims led (as Alan Jacobs commends), which is what I make a practice of doing now. I find non-work-related reading particularly life giving, although admittedly there are some fuzzy boundaries with some books. (more…)

Personal Update

It has been a busy summer and now the academic year is upon us again, so buckle up. Back in late July I posted some information about recent publications and current projects (here). Other than that, most of the summer I have simply been re-blogging information about my forthcoming Septuaginta: A Reader’s Edition, co-edited with Gregory R. Lanier and published with Hendrickson. It will be available in November (yes, they will have it in stock in Denver) and we’ve set up a website specifically for sharing information about it (here).

Although it’s taken a little bit longer than I anticipated to be able to share some other significant developments that I hinted at in July, I’m finally able to do that now.

Side Note: If you don’t really care about my personal developments and just like stuff about Septuagint, I get it. No feelings hurt. But you’ll have to wait a few more weeks before my next Septuagint scholar interview, this time with the inestimable John A. L. Lee. If you can’t wait that long then consider reading this piece I wrote for Credo Magazine.

Dissertation Submitted

It has already been a few weeks since this occurred, but on August 24th I submitted my dissertation at the University of Cambridge. When that happened, I took the obligatory picture (right) in front of the red door of the Student Registry where everyone turns in their dissertation. It’s actually a pretty anticlimactic moment, since you just hand it over to some person behind the desk who you’ve never even seen before, sign a form, and walk away. It takes about three minutes.

But you walk away free. Sort of. At least, you walk away with your fate sealed. I am waiting to hear from the Powers That Be about the date of my viva, which is the oral examination of my work that is actually the true test of whether I “pass” or not, and if so, how much or how little correction is necessary. I don’t have a date yet, but it will definitely happen before Christmas.

If you’re curious, the title of my dissertation is “Septuagint Lexicography and Language Change in Greek Judges.”

There’s a ton more I could say about my time at Cambridge. Thankfully, there is a place to do that, and that is your Acknowledgements in the dissertation. So I have included that section in this post, which you can read below.

Job Starting in January

I am also thrilled to share that I have been appointed as an assistant professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. This appointment has been in the works for a pretty long time. Over a year, actually. But the long process was well worth it in my opinion.

RTS is a multi-campus institution begun just over fifty years ago to serve all branches of evangelical Christianity, especially the Presbyterian and Reformed family. As an organization, it is firmly rooted in a commitment to the Westminster Standards and focuses on preparing pastors, missionaries, educators, counselors, and others for leadership and service in the Church.

I am honored to have the opportunity to join an excellent faculty in Charlotte to help train and equip others in this way. My position begins in January 2019, when I’ll be thrown into teaching an intensive intermediate Hebrew class. My primary responsibility will be courses in the Pentateuch and Historical books, but also includes the Hebrew curriculum and upper-level Greek courses as well. I should also have an opportunity to teach electives in due time, and I’ll give you one guess for what the topic will be for my first one.

You can read the official RTS announcement here.

ETS & SBL Conferences in Denver

Somewhere between moving away from Cambridge and arriving in Charlotte, I’ll be showing up for the annual biblical studies conferences in Denver this November. There I will be doing something I’ve never tried before: co-presenting. Twice, in fact.

First, I will be part of this year’s Septuagint Studies consultation session at ETS (details here), and will be discussing with my co-editor, Greg Lanier, the more practical aspects of how we went about producing the Reader’s Edition of the Septuagint. Second, we will also co-present at one of the IOSCS meetings at SBL, where we’ll be discussing some more technical and research-oriented aspects of the same thing based on the data we collected along the way. Should be a good time.

Dissertation Acknowledgements

For anyone interested, you can read my Acknowledgements page from my dissertation below:

The 6th International Conference on the Septuagint in Wuppertal

Old Testament scholarship is pretty obscure stuff for most people on the street. But mention the word “Septuagint” and you’ll usually get even more muddled looks and occasionally a “God bless you” in puzzled response. Well, things don’t get any better from there as you get into sub-fields of this sub-discipline. 

Even within the small, fascinating world of Septuagint scholarship, the biannual Tagung held Wuppertal, Germany, is not terribly well known. Certainly not among casual “septuagintal hobbyists.” That is not to say that it isn’t very influential. To the contrary, in fact, this conference is one of the most important “think-tank” events in the discipline. Every two years it takes place at the Kirchliche Hochschule and attracts specialists in Septuagint scholarship from around the globe. The connection to that institution is the highly regarded Dr. Seigfreid Kreuzer, emeritus professor at the Hochschule and also (among other things) current editor-in-chief of the discipline’s own Journal of Septuagint and Cognate Studies.

The 6th LXX.D Conference

Although the page is sadly out of date, you can read (in German) about some of the previous Tagungen that have been part of the outrageously productive Septuaginta Deutsch research project over the years. I have written previously about their Septuaginta­übersetzung (LXX.D, 2 volumes), which is also accompanied by their commentary volume (LXX.E). I’ve also mentioned the ongoing Handbuch project (LXX.H), which is slated to be a massive eight volumes – Volume 1, edited by Dr. Kreuzer, is already available.

In addition to this (quite literally) voluminous output from scholars associated with this research initiative, there has also been a steady flow of edited volumes containing the essays presented at each LXX.D biannual conference in Wuppertal. Thus far, these have been published by Mohr Siebeck, and can be obtained for somewhere between €140-215 if you have extra pocket change.

Die Septuaginta – Texte, Kontexte, Lebenswelten (2006)
Die Septuaginta – Texte, Theologien, Einflüsse (2008)
Die Septuaginta – Entstehung, Sprache, Geschichte (2010)
Die Septuaginta – Text, Wirkung, Rezeption (2012)
Die Septuaginta – Orte und Intentionen (2014)

This year is the 6th international conference to be held in Wuppertal, from 21-24 July. This year’s theme and, presumably, the subsequent volume’s title is:

Die Septuaginta. Geschichte – Wirkung – Relevanz
(The Septuagint: History – Impact/Effect – Relevance)

My Contribution

I was pleased to get the opportunity to participate in this year’s conference.
When something like this comes along in the life of a young scholar, you scrape every penny of funding together that you can to make it happen. And make sure your wife is okay with it. Oh, and double check that you also have something worthwhile to say.

Thankfully, I have managed to coordinate all three (I love you, Kelli). I think the “have something worthwhile to say” criteria will be put to the test at the actual conference, but at least in theory my paper should fit in quite nicely with this year’s theme.

My abstract is as follows:

Title: “The Septuagint as Catalyst for Language Change in the Koine: A Usage-Based Approach”

Ever since Deissmann, scholars of Greek have increasingly recognized that the Septuagint embodies a corpus of language rightly categorized as the non-literary Koine of its time. Even now, current research efforts that take account of the documentary evidence continue to improve our understanding of Koine Greek per se, and precisely how the Septuagint fits within it. However, it is important also to evaluate how the Septuagint does not only embody the new linguistic features of Koine Greek, but also prompted and proliferated them. This paper adopts a linguistic perspective that recognizes how language as a system changes in response to the new uses to which it is put. The first section of this paper overviews the usage-based linguistic approach, focusing on the theory of language change put forward by William Croft (2000). In a second section, this theory is applied to a conventional Greek grammatical construction that was significantly propagated in the Septuagint, and which therefore became more entrenched in the language in general. The concluding section gives general comments on the social mechanisms of the translation of the Septuagint that made it a catalyst for language change

This paper comes partly out of previous research I had done for my dissertation. The grammatical construction I refer to in the abstract is what I call the “meeting construction” in the paper, which can be represented:

[Verb] + εἰς + [‘Meeting’ Noun] + [Modifier]

I had noticed some interesting trends in the use of this phrase in LXX-Judges, so this paper explores the construction in broader Greek sources, both biblical and nonbiblical. Much of the reading I have been doing in the past eight months or so is more methodology-oriented. My topic is primarily lexical semantics, so I have been digging more deeply into theoretical approaches to this area that could benefit my work (and Septuagint scholarship more generally, I hope).

If you’re interested in the paper in its draft form, let me know.