A Thank You To My Readers, and a Bit of Housekeeping

Thanks to all the readers who have used my Amazon links when accessing the Amazon site. It’s a small thing to do, but it yields great rewards for bloggers involved with the Amazon Affiliates program. Because of all your clicking, I was able to pick up a big, expensive tome needed for my studies: Book of Legends/Sefer Ha-Aggadah: Legends from the Talmud and Midrash, by Hayyim Nahman Bialik and Y.H. Rawnitzky.

This isn’t a brick: this is a cinderblock. It’s almost 1,000 pages long and oversized, and is a staggering collection of rabbinic lore from the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds and the midrashic literature. The beauty of the collection is that it focuses on the aggadah, which is the non-legal portions of the tradition, and groups them according to theme and topic, fully indexed by scripture citation and keyword. It’s something I really wish I had for Logos, and I imagine they’ll get to it eventually.

I kept various copies of this book out of the library for almost 8 months, so it’s good to finally have my own to mark up. The texts of the aggadah developed almost simultaneously with the emergence of Christianity, and provide a window into rabbinic perspectives on the texts of the Old Testament.

For instance, when I was doing exegesis on 1 Samuel 3, I wrote about the point in 1 Samuel 3:2 when we learn that Eli’s “sight is going dim.” This is not just his literal blindness, but also his prophetic sight and his ability to “see” the true will of Lord. The next line tells us that the “lamp of God had not yet gone out,” which is not merely a reference to the light hanging in the tabernacle, but also to the light of Eli.  As the midrash says, “No righteous man ever departs from the world until a righteous man like him is brought into being.” (Sefer Ha-Aggadah 114:59) The lamp is the light of Eli, fading but dim, and about to be extinguished in favor of the light of Samuel.

The book is jammed with material like this, and it’s a far more organized way to explore it than attempting to pour through the voluminous midrashic literature. So: thanks for book, and keep clicking!

In other news:

  • I’m taking a week off, so posting will be light to non-existent.
  • I’m still working out the content and format of my little corner of the internet, so bear with me while I try different styles and subjects. I never wanted it to be “10 ways to use Twitter for your parish,” because other people do that better, but I do want to continue to explore what all this technology means, let readers know what’s coming, and steer them towards some of the good stuff.
  • I started posting a few archaeology news items because it’s a subject of interest to me, only to learn that people really liked them. That’s fine with me, since I began my academic career intending to become an archaeologist, and misspent my first year of college in the anthropology program, learning that I hated the political garbage at the heart of the discipline. Now that I’m back studying theology, I’m finding that a lot of my early experience with anthropology and comparative religion is coming into play. In fact, one of my fall classes for my masters program is going to be about the archaeology of the Holy Land. Since “Technology| Culture| Catholicism” is a pretty wide net, I feel comfortable including it here on a regular basis, so expect the archaeology stuff to continue.
  • Sadly, I do see an endpoint for the Monday Morning Chicken, even though it’s become an absurdly popular feature for a few dedicated chicken-fanciers, and I get requests for new content and complaints when I don’t post. I don’t want Ruby, Amber, and Diamond to outstay their welcome in your homes, so I’m planning for the weekly chicken posts to conclude when one of these slackers lays her first egg, which should be in a month. After that, I’ll do sporadic chicken postings when I have good material.
  • However: we will be getting three more chicks next spring, so the chicken thing may return as a regular feature then.
  • The winner of the Logos contest has been determined by Logos and Punchtab, and the winner has been contacted. Last I heard, said winner had not replied in order to claim the prize. I believe Logos will try to contact the first winner for a little longer, and if they don’t hear back, they’ll pick another, so make sure you check your email and spam filters. When we have confirmation, I’ll announce it here.
  • If you don’t already, please follow me on Twitter or Facebook. (Please use the “God and the Machine” Facebook site. I keep my “Thomas L. McDonald” Facebook page for colleagues, friends, and family because the material posted there is more personal. I may change that at some point, but not yet.)
  • Finally, as mentioned up post, I’ll be taking a break until the 16th, although I may post should something interesting hove into view, and there are some items waiting in the queue to autopost.


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About Thomas L. McDonald

Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.