Biblical Scholars: Care to be Interviewed?

I have assigned my “Introduction to Old Testament” students to interview a “real biblical scholar.” Students will collaboratively come up with questions for their interviews during October, and conduct their interviews by phone or Skype in early November. They will then write a report on their interview.

Here is how I describe the report to them:

The student will have already prepared and refined a list of questions, independently and in collaboration with colleagues. She will have contacted the subject, arranged the interview, and held the interview, in accordance with instructions.

The report should demonstrate that the student asked questions appropriate to academic biblical studies, while also appropriately inviting the subject to reflect on “essential questions” related to the practice of academic biblical studies. The report should contain an introduction, a list of questions, and a body that communicates the subject’s responses to each question, and a conclusion. The report should show evidence that the interview has prompted the student to “step back” and reflect on her practice of biblical studies both for our course work and longer term.

I would like volunteers to either have a completed PhD, or else be ABD with a full-time academic job in biblical studies.

If you are interested, you can respond here in comments, or else email me at my work address: brooke dot mylastname at garrett dot edu.


[Biblical Scholars: Care to be Interviewed? was written by G. Brooke Lester for and was originally posted on 2011/09/20. Except as noted, it is © 2011 G. Brooke Lester and licensed for re-use only under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.]

Open Access Intro to OT

This post concerns my ideas for a particular kind of open-access Introduction to the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament).

I recently floated a Tweet (and Facebook status update) that asked around about any open-access Introduction to the Old Testament. I have an idea for such a project, and wanted to see if anything was already out there (knowing pretty well that there is not).

Akma proved (as I knew he would) to be an eager conversation partner, and his responsive post has generated some discussion. I follow up there with some remarks about what I have in mind.

What I plan to try for is an Introduction to the OT that:

  • is freely available online;
  • is historical- and literary-critical in focus (as is a Coogan or a Collins, say; in other words, not a “theological introduction” narrowly reflecting the concerns of faith communities or other readerly social contexts);
  • is authored by a socially diverse body of contributors.

With the “open source” aspect, I mean to respond to a clear need. I would like my own students to have a freely-available, critical Introduction. (I’d actually like them to have several, as well as several open-access Hebrew and Greek grammars, and so on.)

With the authorship and content that I have in mind, I mean to address a situation in the field. During the time that historical criticism was held to be in decline, traditional historical-literary introductions continued to be ceded to the white male authors, while women and people of color wrote works intended to supplement such introductions. Now, though, the recognition of the biblical authors as among the “Others” to whom we try to listen earnestly has prompted some rehabilitation of the historical-critical approaches. It is well past time to have “traditional” historical-literary-critical Introductions to OT that reflect genuine diversity of authorship. (What holds together such an Intro would be a shared commitment to grounding one’s historical-literary claims in publicly-shared evidence and lines of reasoning; what makes it diverse would be the unpredictable range of possible perceptions and assessments regarding that evidence.)

Akma had the excellent idea that such an Intro could be “modular”: after the initial publication, if somebody wanted to offer a supplemental chapter, zie could do so as long as the controlling body agreed that the supplemental work fit the scope and formatting of the project.

I will be writing up an outline delimiting the methods, outline, and scope of the project, and will also be having discussions with possible contributors. I am at a very early stage on this, so you will have to stay tuned a while to hear more about what takes shape.

Student Hebrew Bible Wiki (in progress)

One of my introductory Hebrew Bible classes has been producing a wiki at The wiki is meant to be a resource in Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and in the study of the Hebrew Bible.

The work is in progress, and is weighted toward Writings and Latter Prophets. (This is all they’ve learned yet: in fact, they were learning the wiki during the Writings, and so Job, for example, never got in). This is the first time almost any of the students have been involved in a wiki of any kind, and they have picked it up admirably.

Anybody may view the wiki, but only members of the class may contribute to it.

Go and have a look if you like!

Student Bible Blogging

My students have been blogging for a few weeks now. Feel free to pay them a collegial visit and see what they’re doing. One of my classes can be found here, in the boxes called “Blogging A,”, “Blogging B,” and so on through D. Another of my classes can be found here, in the box called “Course Blogging.” Each student has her own blog, but posts tagged with our course numbers are collected via RSS feed to our shared NetVibes page.

Their assignment is to engage the materials and methods of the course, which is pretty standard “Intro to Hebrew Bible” stuff except that we did the Writings first, and are now on Latter Prophets. Coming up yet are Former Prophets and only then the Torah.

Just managing to start a blog and get posting was a new challenge for most of my students of all ages. They are all to be congratulated for stepping up and experimenting with public writing. Enjoy visiting them, be respectful and supportive, and have fun.

Hey Profs, Show Us Your Outcomes!

I am trying to take seriously two thing. First, my own admonishment not to use the academic cliché “take seriously” in any of my writing. But second, the logical need to clarify to myself what learning outcomes I am trying for, before revising the rubrics for my assignments.

The wording of my outcomes is not yet important to me; it’s okay if they are sloppy or a bit rambling. For example, in “Introduction to the Old Testament”:

    1. Students will become fearless researchers in the field, getting over the “but I’m not a scholar” mental hump, and also the “but what if I find something that upsets my faith” hump.
    2. Students will embrace collaboration, eschewing narrow competitiveness or fearful isolation and growing into the conviction that “a rising tide lifts all boats.” As Harry Tuttle put it, “We’re all in it together, kid.” I do well if we do well, and we do well if I do well.
    3. Students will comprehend the difference between “Bible study” (devotional, expository; our theologies about the Bible; not primarily what we’re doing) and “biblical studies” (exegetical, literary and historical; the theologies discerned in the texts; what we are primarily doing).
    4. Students will learn the details of the different historical situations in Canaan between the 13th and 2nd centuries B.C.E. They will be able to talk clearly about why those differences matter to how we exegete specific biblical texts.
    5. Students will get a sense that, if they ever want to interpret the Bible with anything resembling authority, they are going to have to take Elementary Hebrew 1 and 2 the following year.
    6. Student will just love the living bejeezus out of the Hebrew Bible.

      [Edit: changed list from bullets to numbered list.]

      I have other outcomes taking shape for Elementary Hebrew.

      Readers, if you teach any courses at all, what are they and what learning outcomes are essential to you? If you do not teach, what learning outcomes have you experienced as essential, or what outcomes do you wish had been prioritized?

      Pardon Our Dust

      Welcome to Anumma!

      Give me a week or so to get everything into place: blogroll, preferred settings, first post. Soon, I’ll be blogging on studies in Hebrew Bible, on practices in teaching higher education, and occasionally on other things that I’ll want to persuade you to find exciting.

      Thanks for stopping, and don’t go far.