oye vey: 3d creation movie coming soon

mike fleming brings exclusive news in a deadline new york article entitled, ‘god stars in 3d book of genesis bible tale.’
in the story we learn:

Paramount Pictures and former Walden Media co-founder Cary Granat producing with Reel Fx are mounting In The Beginning, a 3D telling of the creation story. The film is using The Book of Genesis as its primary resource. A script has been written by John Fusco (Hidalgo), and directing will be TV vet David Cunningham.

we also learn that:

the $30 million film will use 3-D visuals to transform the oft-told tale into a spectacle that the filmmakers hope will attract family- and faith-based audiences that flocked to The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, that first Chronicles of Narnia installment made on Granat’s Walden watch.

so there you have it. the next great mythological story told in 3d will be the story of adam and eve. and i can’t wait to hear the debates this movie will generate. here are a few just to get us started:

  • will the movie tell the genesis 1 story or the genesis 2 story (or harmonize them into a single creation story)?
  • will the movie give a literal account from the bible or will it embellish the story at all?
  • will the movie be praised by the evangelical christian crowd as much needed in a liberal hollywood climate, or will it be criticized if too much liberty is taken and the script deviates from the biblical account(s).
  • will it be a good script?
  • will it look as good as avatar?
  • will the academic community:
    • embrace it for its portrayal of a biblical story (thereby welcoming a movie based upon a piece of ancient literature)?
    • reject it for propagating a creation myth as historical (if the movie based upon a creation account is marketed as ‘factual’)?
    • embrace it because it embellished a mythological account of creation (and fictional stories should be celebrated as such)?
    • reject it because it feeds a frenzy of fundamentalist religion at a time when we should be critically examining the fundamental stories of various religious traditions over and against our modern, scientific understanding of humanity and the world?

what are your thoughts?

chronicle of higher ed asks what’s best done with the dead sea scrolls

An infrared image of a fragment of Deuteronomy 27, part of Azusa Pacific U.'s Dead Sea Scrolls acquisition.

An infrared image of a fragment of Deuteronomy 27, part of Azusa Pacific U.'s Dead Sea Scrolls acquisition.

a new article by jennifer howard of the chronicle of higher education asks an important question: ‘what’s best done with the dead sea scrolls?’ in the article, howard examines the pros and cons of religiously-affiliated universities acquiring fragments of the dead sea scrolls for the sake of publicity.

But for some scholars, the purchases are more a cause for concern than for celebration. Will such acquisitions by academic institutions, even though they are made legally, help drive up the market for looted antiquities and rare artifacts? And is the boost to scholarship really worth the large sums of money those fragments cost?

she also makes note of my recent satirical blog post announcing the acquisition of some dss fragments by other previously unknown dead sea scrolls-centered institutions.

Some scholars feel queasy at the thought that universities will shell out that kind of money in these hard-pressed times, even for objects as symbolically and historically important as pieces of the Dead Sea Scrolls. On his blog, Robert R. Cargill, a Biblical archaeologist, imagined “a race of archaeological one-upmanship,” in which institutions compete to scoop up high-profile objects in order to boost their academic reputations.

Mr. Cargill is the institutional technology coordinator of the Center for Digital Humanities at the University of California at Los Angeles, and the chief architect and designer of UCLA’s Qumran Visualization Project. “Universities are charged with educating people, not acquiring cool artifacts,” he said in an interview. “If someone gives a university something, OK. But universities should spend the bulk of their money on educating students and not on cheap public-relations ploys in an attempt to increase credibility overnight with the purchase of an antiquity.” Mr. Cargill also worries that high-profile acquisitions will encourage would-be looters to see what else they can dig up and put on the market.

jennifer did an excellent job with the article and it is certainly worth the read.

one reason why i love the west wing (still)

one reason why i loved the west wing (and still do).

could you imagine if a president from either party really, i mean really knew the bible – not just its verses, but also their context and their implications for governance if the hermeneutic used for some verses like prohibitions against homosexuality were consistently applied a throughout the text? can you imagine if the thoughtfulness that went into making this tv show actually went in to decisions made by our leaders?

an idea for the 2010 sbl biblioblogging session in atlanta

i am considering an idea that was floated at this year’s sbl conference in new orleans. as a part of our call for papers for the inaugural 2010 sbl biblioblogger session, we wanted to include as many contributors as possible because there are so many excellent biblioblogs and bibliobloggers. the idea is an adaption of the webby awards, which highlights the best of the web, while limiting award recipients to mere 5-word acceptance speeches.

the idea is to invite several 60-second summary contributions in either text or video blog format. then, in addition to regular paper submissions, the 20 best minute-long segments will be sequenced into a single 20-minute presentation surveying the best biblioblogs on the internet. in each 60-second presentation, a biblioblogger describes one’s blog, what one studies, and why it is relevant. this will allow us to see and understand a little bit more about a greater number of blogs, while also hearing more in-depth papers in the traditional conference manner. the one submitting a blog for consideration may write a 60-second summary or may submit a 60-second video blog. likewise, one may submit a colleague’s blog for consideration.

thoughts? other ideas? should they be 30-second clips?

please pass this post along and have those wanting to make comments comment here on this post.

thanx.

ucla earthquake preparedness and the great california shakeout 10/15 @ 10:15

The Great California Shakeout

The Great California Shakeout

today, october 15, 2009 (10/15) at 10:15 am, ucla faculty and staff participated in the ‘great california shakeout.’ the great shakeout is an earthquake preparedness drill sponsored by the state of california. employees are asked to identify sturdy tables and desks under which to duck and cover in the event of an earthquake, and then walk through an actual evacuation route to a predetermined rendezvous point outside of the building.

the drill was boring, but beneficial. at ucla, there were no siren blasts, news media hovering overhead in helicopters (like we had for days when michael jackson died), or people screaming. best of all, no one was injured during the drill.

we ducked and covered, made our way to the evacuation point, read our bruinalerts (bruinalert on facebook), (which have recently told us of emergencies on campus such as stabbings), and returned to our offices. it was a good way to prepare a plan of action in the event of an actual emergency.

i used my time wisely to read briefly from a hebrew book i rather enjoy reading. i figure, if you’re gonna go, you might as well go out reading something you enjoy.

Members of the UCLA Center for Digital Humanities rendezvous at the Murphy Sculpture Garden during the October 15, 2009 "Great California Shakeout" earthquake preparedness drill.

Members of the UCLA Center for Digital Humanities rendezvous at the Murphy Sculpture Garden during the "Great California Shakeout" earthquake preparedness drill.

UCLA Instructional Technology Consultants (ITCs) demonstrating how to properly 'duck and cover' during the Great California Shakeout on October 15, 2009.

UCLA Instructional Technology Consultants (ITCs) demonstrating how to properly 'duck and cover' during the Great California Shakeout on October 15, 2009.

"If you're gonna go, you might as well go reading something worthwhile." - Robert Cargill Dr. Robert Cargill reading his BHS under a sturdy table during the Great California Shakeout.

"If you're gonna go, you might as well go out reading something you enjoy." - Robert Cargill

Dr. Robert Cargill reading his BHS under a sturdy table during the Great California Shakeout.

Dr. Robert Cargill reading his BHS under a sturdy table during the Great California Shakeout.

possible new resource for sunday school class (or for some, a freshman religion course)

the dead sea comic popped up on my radar this morning. it appears to be a comic book-themed activity book for children filled with facts and figures about the bible. it is the brainchild of british cartoonist steve english. it appears to be a new offering for sunday school literature. downthetubes.net has blogged about it here. i can’t tell where it lies on the scale from fundamentalist to minimalist, but this might make a good tool for a church sunday school class (or a freshman religion class at some christian university for a professor that likes to use silly illustrations to illustrate biblical topics ;- ).

on the ‘accreditation’ of bibliobloggers

SBL Biblioblog Badge

SBL Biblioblog Badge

the following was originally an excursus within an earlier essay on role of online universities. i have posted this revised and expanded excursus as its own essay here. -bc

some have recently complained about the recent announcement of the society of biblical literature’s affiliation with individuals who identify themselves as ‘bibliobloggers’ – a loosely connected group of biblical scholars and students dedicated to publishing their thoughts, research, and opinions online. a general objection appears to be a discomfort with the attempt to organize and officially recognize a group of scholars who, by the independent nature of their chosen medium of publication – blogging – are often more comfortable as independent voices. however, a repeated, acute objection appears to revolve around the fear of an oversight body with the power to bind and loose confirm or reject a blogger’s legitimacy.

i have addressed some of these issues in previous posts. this new affiliation results in a new section within sbl dedicated to the practice of biblical research via blogs, websites, and other online technologies (i.e., biblioblogging). the sbl affiliation is an attempt to coordinate the efforts of bibliobloggers, many of whom are already members of sbl, instructors at universities, or both, and establish a venue at the national meeting to present, discuss, and share new ideas and experiences in a dedicated session. a steering committee was formed to guide the new group, coordinate the new sbl section’s efforts, and hopefully bring a bit more legitimacy to a growing practice increasingly being adopted by biblical scholars around the globe.

some, however, have objected, worried that the new group may serve as a blogging police or worse yet, an accrediting agency. however, this is simply not the case. several hypothetical straw man (and straw woman) arguments have been made in an attempt to contest the sbl’s formal affiliation with bibliobloggers. but, perhaps the most appropriate comparison to the straw man arguments made by dissenters is the academy’s current response to online universities.

online universities are businesses that offer degrees to students who pay tuition to take classes that are completely online. many of these institutions possess little-to-no oversight, no accreditation, and offer little real education. they are essentially paper mills offering worthless pieces of paper degrees to anyone that will pay the $500 tuition. it is therefore possible that some phony ‘institutions’ call themselves ‘universities,’ and that those they graduate regularly and proudly place the degrees they have ‘earned’ online after their names (like ‘m.b.a.,’ ‘ph.d.,’ or ‘m.div.’).

what is true for online universities and their graduates is also true of bibliobloggers. it is true that nutballs can theoretically claim to be a ‘biblioblogger’ by typing the word ‘biblioblog’ on their blog or creating a badge and affixing it to their site, just as it is possible for someone to ‘achieve’ a ph.d from an unaccredited paper mill (online or otherwise). but, possession of an online degree doesn’t make the degree worthwhile, the recipient legitimate, or one’s subsequent claims respectable. all it means is that one is claiming to be something, even if they are actually not what they claim to be.

it is not the job of the government to tell these people that their ‘degree’ is worthless; they have a right to buy a piece of paper with the words ‘ph.d.’ on it if they choose. in the same way, it is not the job of the sbl or any biblioblogger steering committee to regulate, control, or otherwise sanction who is and who is not claiming to be a biblioblogger. this is traditionally the job of accrediting agencies, and it is important to remember that accreditation is voluntarily sought by the institution seeking accreditation. that is, a university voluntarily submits itself to the accreditation process, it is not imposed upon them.

universities are governed by accrediting agencies. the government list of accredited postsecondary institutions and programs lists national, regional, and state accrediting agencies like the western association for schools and colleges, the new england association of schools and colleges, the north central association of colleges and schools, etc.  but within the academy, ‘accreditation’ (i.e., worthiness) of individual scholars is informal, and is usually based upon their academic affiliation (where they work/teach), their role within the academy (committees, contributions to higher education, etc.), or their record of publication (contribution of original research to society), even though no formal accreditation process exists for individual scholars. (one could argue that the tenure process serves this purpose, but one need not hold a tenure-track position to be a credible lecturer or researcher.)

similarly, at the intersection of blogging and academic biblical studies, this informal ‘accreditation’ may include a blogger’s affiliation (with a university, church, or professional organization like sblaarasor, etc.), one’s role within the biblioblogging community (reputation, commitment to online resources and research, etc.), and one’s record and consistency of publication online (contribution to the online community). however, no formal organization, committee, or individual exists to grant accreditation to bibliobloggers, nor will it (at least not with the steering committee for the sbl-affiliated bibliobloggers). credibility and ‘accreditation’ rests with the peer-review process; an informal collective of scholarly peers ultimately decides which bloggers are credible and which are not. thus, the same factors that weigh into decisions of accreditation or legitimacy of a university or an individual scholar should weigh into the ‘accreditation’ or legitimacy of a biblioblogger – no more and no less. again, this ‘accreditation’ is not a formal document as it is with universities, but better resembles the ‘street cred’ that is earned only through years of dedication and experience to one’s craft.

so, while anyone may claim to be a degree-granting university or a thought-dispensing biblioblogger, those that do so are judged by their peers on credible measures of reputation, publication, and contribution to the field, regardless of whether they have the word ‘university’ or ‘biblioblogger’ on their websites. like the accreditation of universities, colleges, and online universities, accreditation is ultimately a peer-review process. many will claim to be bibliobloggers, but only some will be recognized by an academy of their peers to be worthwhile.

if it’s good for the goose… 2010 california protection of marriage act seeks to ban divorce

2010 California Protection of Marriage Act

2010 California Protection of Marriage Act

in the fall of 2008, california voters were asked to choose whether or not to overturn a california law that allowed same-sex couples to marry. a ballot initiative named the ‘california marriage protection act‘, but better known simply as ‘proposition 8’ sought to amend article 1 of the california state constitution, adding a single sentence that reads:

Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

despite the large number of catholics, mormons, and evangelical christians that voted heavily in favor of it, the ‘yes on 8’ campaign never explicitly mentioned the bible. rather, the ‘yes on 8’ campaign argued that the purpose of their campaign to ban same-sex marriage was to ‘protect traditional marriage.’ according to the prop 8 website, the measure would prevent against undermining,

the value of marriage altogether at a time when we should be restoring marriage, not undermining it.

‘yes on 8’ supporters regularly called for a ban on same-sex marriage to help ‘protect marriage.’ the ‘yes on 8’ website argues:

Proposition 8 protects marriage as an essential institution of society. While death, divorce, or other circumstances may prevent the ideal, the best situation for a child is to be raised by a married mother and father.

john marcotte of sacramento, california has taken this desire to protect the institution of marriage and to ensure that children are married by a mother and a father to the next level. marcotte has filed a petition to add another ballot measure on the 2010 california state ballot entitled the ‘2010 california marriage protection act.’ his petition seeks to ban divorce in california.

according to marcotte:

I am trying to extend the good work done with Proposition 8 last year. It could really happen. The United States has not always had divorce as an institution the way we do now. As a ballot initiative it bypasses the legislature and the governor. It’s the will of the people made law.

this is brilliant. it is nothing more than the natural extension of the ban on gay marriage. the bible clearly prohibits divorce except in the case of marital infidelity. matthew 5:32 reads:

But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

however, the penalty in the jewish tradition for marital infidelity was death by stoning. leviticus 20:10 reads:

If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death.

thus, a man can divorce his wife if she cheats on him, but she cannot remarry because presumably, she’d be dead. interestingly, however, the divorced man also cannot remarry. the second part of matthew 5:32 says:

matthew 5:32 reads:

and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

thus, marrying a divorced individual is also prohibited. likewise, paul prohibits the remarriage of christians. after encouraging all xns not to get married (1 corinthians 7:7, 8, 27), paul states in 7:10-11:

To the married I give this command-not I but the Lord-that the wife should not separate from her husband. (but if she does separate, let her remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.

thus, the bible clearly states that christians are not to divorce (except for the infidelity exception in matthew 5), and that divorced individuals should not remarry. note that no exception is provided for remarriage in 1 corinthians 7. thus, if one reads the bible in a fundamentalist fashion, according to the apostle paul, divorced individuals cannot remarry under any circumstance.

therefore, it is fair to say that in order to properly protect marriage and ensure that children are raised by both a mother and a father, not only should same-sex marriage be banned, but so too should divorce, as well as the remarriage of any divorced individual. this is precisely what john marcotte is seeking to do by banning divorce: protect traditional marriage. and marcotte is absolutely sure that those that supported and contributed to the ‘yes on 8’ campaign will contribute to and campaign vigorously for his 2010 california marriage protection act. why wouldn’t they? if the supporters of the ‘yes on 8’ campaign truly believe in protecting marriage, and do not want to appear hypocritical, they will eagerly support a ban on divorce.

the bible says homosexuality is unauthorized. the bible also says divorce is unauthorized (with one exception). the bible says the remarriage of divorced individuals is unauthorized. if we’re going to ban gay marriage, we should ban divorce too. if we really want to ‘defend marriage,’ and use state laws to do so, let’s do it all the way!

otherwise, let’s end this hypocritical nonsense and let divorced individuals and same sex couples marry. what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

robert cargill

azusa pacific acquires five dead sea scroll fragments

Azusa Pacific University

the library at azusa pacific university in azusa, california just east of pasadena has acquired five dead sea scroll fragments. a press release states:

Joining Princeton University and the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, APU becomes only the third institution of higher education to own original Dead Sea Scroll fragments.

4Q271 - A fragment of the Damascus Document

4Q271 - A fragment of the Damascus Document

according to the press release:

Four of the fragments were obtained from Lee Biondi of Biondi Rare Books and Manuscripts in Venice, California. The fifth fragment came from Legacy Ministries International, a Phoenix, Arizona-based nonprofit committed to telling the story of the Bible and assembling artifacts, objects, Bibles, and documents tracing the history of Scripture.

congratulations to azusa pacific university and their administration for this acquisition. as a visiting professor last semester, i know how quickly apu is rising in their academic standing and their commitment to scholarship. i thoroughly enjoyed their students and the deans and chairs have assembled a top-notch faculty.

as for the scrolls, this acquisition further establishes the pasadena area in the history of the dead sea scrolls scholarship. the huntington library in near by san marino, ca broke the monopoly of the dead sea scrolls when it announced in 1991 it would make available a complete microfilm copy of the scrolls in its archives. soon thereafter, emanuel tov, director of the dss project, announced open access would be granted to all material in the official collection. now, some of the actual fragments have come to southern california.

for more:

APU acquires 5 pieces of the Dead Sea Scrolls

new 4th century fragment of the book of hebrews announced

a new biblical manuscript has been announced on the textual criticism of the bible group: introducing p126.

I am pleased to announce to you that we have a new New Testament papyrus.

I noted it in the last volume of the PSI a NT. It contents He 13,12-13.19-20, and it has still not been remarked by the NT field.

the text is a fragment of hebrews 13:12-13, 19-20 and is dated to the fourth century.

hebrews 13:12-13, 19-20 reads (nrsv):

Heb. 13:12: Therefore Jesus also suffered outside the city gate in order to sanctify the people by his own blood.
Heb. 13:13:  Let us then go to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured.
Heb. 13:19:  I urge you all the more to do this, so that I may be restored to you very soon.
Heb. 13:20:  Now may the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant,

editio princeps: “G. Vitelli,” Papiri Greci e Latini, vol. 15 (Firenze: Le Monnier/Istituto papirologico, 2008) , 171-172.

(with thanx to the etc blog and to jim west for the tip.)

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