December 28, 2023

I received an email encouraging me to try out Bard’s GeminiAI and thought it would be fun to ask it how to detect when students have used AI. Here’s what it wrote: Determining whether your student’s work is AI-generated can be tricky, but several methods can help you make an informed judgment: Content-Based Clues: Lack of originality or specific detail: AI writing often struggles with personal experiences, emotions, and unique insights. Look for generic statements, clichés, and a lack of depth in the content. Repetitiveness and formulaic... Read more

December 27, 2023

The business of Christmas hopefully provides an excuse for taking a couple of days before posting my thoughts on “The Church on Ruby Road.” What follows assumes you have seen the episode. I very much like the latest regeneration of the Doctor, and I was glad that despite the wibbly wobbly timey wimey therapy provided by the bigeneration and the other Doctor settling down with family, there was still clearly a rich well of emotion at being the last time... Read more

December 21, 2023

A year ago I was just returning from spending Michelmas term at Magdalen College in Oxford, at the halfway point in a yearlong sabbatical. I was happy to be back with my family after extended separation. I was wondering what it would be like, after spending time in the Bodleian Libraries’ David Reading Room looking at manuscripts and in the Duke Humphries library just because it is such a cool historic space, to relocate soon after the beginning of the... Read more

December 19, 2023

There is a brand new Society of Biblical Literature program unit focused on John the Baptist, and it will be on the annual meeting program for the first time in 2024 in San Diego. The call for papers is now on the SBL website and so I thought I’d draw it to everyone’s attention now so you can start thinking about a paper you’d like to submit. Program unit description: While there is always a steady trickle of interest in John... Read more

December 13, 2023

It was an honor to have the chance to speak at the Mandaean Convention in San Antonio. It was a small gathering, and they were incredibly hospitable to me and the other academics whom they invited. They served some of their characteristic treats, including ashure (Noah’s pudding) with date syrup, date balls rolled in sesame seeds, and a few other things. I spoke about John the Baptist as someone who would seem destined to be a cause for division between... Read more

December 10, 2023

The Giggle is a lot of things, as far as Doctor Who episodes go. I suppose the reason Russell T. Davies cautioned about children watching is precisely that this is an episode that sounds lighthearted and comical because of its title, yet is anything but. The episode takes children’s toys and makes them creepy and menacing, but that’s been true in the past. I’m not sure there’s anything in it that justified more caution than in general. Before watching, I... Read more

December 6, 2023

Wild Blue Yonder is one of those claustrophobic episodes in which the Doctor and perhaps a handful of others are trapped in some situation in a specific confined location. In this case, having just the Doctor and Donna (and the Doctor and Donna) was delightful (even in this creepy episode), given that this represents a brief return for both actors. For someone like me who is a huge fan of Doctor Who in general but who has a particular interest... Read more

December 4, 2023

Chevrolet (for those outside the United States, a major car company) released a heartwarming ad for the holidays. If you haven’t seen it, you should. This beautiful heartwarming ad has been co-opted by some in the culture wars, circulating it under a headline that claims it is epic because it is the first “non-woke” ad of the season. I saw someone post it with that kind of commentary and I asked what on earth they imagine is “unwoke” about the... Read more

November 25, 2023

For the first of the specials that will bridge the era of Jodie Whitacre as the Doctor to that with Ncuti Gatwa as the Doctor, Doctor Who decided to bring back David Tennant and Donna Noble and to revisit a type of story that it has explored since the era of the very first (televised) Doctor, played by William Hartnell. Spoilers ahead. The episode “The Star Beast” was very much in keeping with recent Doctor Who. There was none of... Read more

November 16, 2023

Digital Reformation: How AI is Transforming Theology By: Christoph Heilig and GPT-4[1] My work with text linguistics and probability theory has led me into the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI).[2] Large language models like GPT-4 generate texts based on the sequence of most probable words. As a literary scholar, I am naturally drawn to the question of how good the texts are that these models create. What was once science fiction—a theology-debating chatbot—is now reality. This progress requires active participation... Read more

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