Ancient Literacies IV— Further Insights

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On the cover of the book we have been discussing is an image of a little known painted panel from a villa in Pompeii. What it depicts is the tools of the trade of writing-- an inkwell, a stylus a papyrus, a wax tablet... Writing in antiquity was nothing like writing on a computer today. It was a long lugubrious, messy process. In this post we want to highlight some of the insights in this collection of essays we have not thus far mentioned. One of the virtues of this volume for NT studies … [Read more...]

Ancient Literacies III– On Bookshops and Literary Performance

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Take a good look at this stone pediment. What do you see? This was found in Ostia, Italy, and it would originally have been founded on the front facing of a building. What sort of building--- you ask? A bookshop, the store of a 'librarius' What you have depicted in this stone shop sign is a man speaking on a podium with two persons taking dictation on either side of him in codex form documents. Behind and to the left are listeners. What is being advertized in this display is a … [Read more...]

The James Ossuary May Be Destroyed???

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(Matthew Kalman is the only reporter who sat through all the years of the Oded Golan trial. He is the inside source of my information about such matters. Here is his latest shocking report-- BW3). Judge to Decide Fate of Ossuary, Jehoash Tablet Posted: May 29, 2012 in Uncategorized This news is reported in “The Jerusalem Post” by Matthew Kalman (on 29th May 2012). You may be interested in knowing the details. Scholars say items should be preserved; J’lem judge could order … [Read more...]

Ancient Literacies II: The Case of the Random Reader

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There is much to be learned about ancient literacy in the fine book edited by William Johnson and Holt Parker, as I said in the previous post, and one of the overall impressions the book leaves is the growing suspicion that William Harris, the guru on levels of literacy in the ancient world (no more than 10-20%) was wrong, indeed badly wrong if we take into account all different sorts of literacies. As Rosalind Thomas says in the opening essay in the volume "it is misleading to talk simply … [Read more...]

Quintilian on Writing, Reading, Studying, Editing

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(the statue is of Cicero, whom Quintilian thought the greatest rhetorician of his age). Below is an excerpt from Book 10 and Chapter 3 of Quintilian's Institutions of Oration. There are more than a few excellent thoughts here about studying, writing, editing, and reflecting.... and burning the midnight oil, an expression we owe to ancients like Quintilian. The translation is an ancient one, which I have done some updating to. ------ 19. From my condemnation of carelessness in … [Read more...]

When a Syllabus is not a Syllabus— Ancient Literacies Part One

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The Latin word syllabus derives from the Greek word sillybos/ sillyboi. What it refers to in the first instance is the tag attached to a papyrus roll by which its contents is identified. One example of an actual tag from antiquity reads 'Hermarchus, 'Against Empedocles' Book 9'. There was no Dewey Decimal or Library of Congress system of labeling and cataloging rolls and codexes in antiquity, and so instead what was done was two fold: 1) a book list of rolls and codexes owned would be … [Read more...]

Men in Black with Aliens on their Backs

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One of the things that made me most wish there was something like a 'neuralizer' was Men in Black II. What a come down after the first film came out in 1997 to considerable acclaim, producing many guffaws. So it was with some trepidation that I went to the Loewe's Cineplex in Boston yesterday and plunked down my $12.00 to see the IMAX 3D version of MIB III. Yes, it had the same fine actors, Will Smith playing J, and Tommy Lee Jones playing K (not to be confused with his Harvard … [Read more...]

The Living Legacy– a Graduation Message for Boston Baptist College

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( the following commencement address was delivered in Faneuil Hall in downtown Boston on May 23rd, 2012). Me at Faneuil Hall preparing to give this address. THE LIVING LEGACY Graduations are always rites of passage of one sort or another. For some students a college degree is only the stepping stone or pre-requisite to a higher degree or degrees. I remember the advice of my Grandmother who only graduated from the 8th grade, as I was going on to seminary and PhD work. She … [Read more...]

The Problem for Christians in Syria

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If you have not been hiding under a rock, you will have noticed that a lot of bad things have been going down in Syria in the last year. Lots of innocent persons killed, lots of mayhem and destruction. Most of it inflicted by governmental forces of President Bashar Assad. One of the great neglected subjects when it comes to American media coverage (see the article in U.S.A. Today May 11 by Stephen Starr, however, which is an exception), is the plight of Christians. Also MIA in American … [Read more...]


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