Monday, November 30, 2009

Busy Busy Week

Busy, busy week going on. Out of nowhere. I'd hate for the readership to think that the blog has died again though, so wanted to give my assurance that this is not the case!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

On Piracy

I found a site to pirate Religious Studies ebooks.

I pirate Windows. I doubt many readers batted an eye. A few might have thought it theft. A few more probably thought "Good, stick it to Microsoft."

How about this: I pirate Libronix. All of it. I have, without exaggerating, 95% of all available resources on my HDD as we speak. I also pirate BibleWorks. And QuickVerse, thought I never use it. I`d very much like to pirate Accordance, even if it would have to run in a VM, but unfortunately I've never found a release.

I downloaded a PDF of Sanders' Paul and Palestinian Judaism 20 minutes ago (to be fair, I own the book). I have JSTOR access that I obtained by manipulating online subscription services. Probably 60% of my research is done with texts I shouldn't legally have.

I do so unapologetically. I also pirate games, though if I enjoy the game I pretty well always pay for it. And movies, though I'll always buy them after too, sometimes even if they suck. I don't usually pirate software, because I'm an OSS evangelist.

So why do I have no qualms about using such a vast quantity of resources without comensurating the developers?

I wouldn't have bought it anyway. They didn't actually lose any money, I'm just using it for free. The question is what I'm supposed to be able to use, not what they're supposed to get paid, because they weren't getting paid anything in the first place.

While for the serious student or professional scholar Libronix is a steal, for the working father of two kids in diapers the expense for the collection I have is preposterous to consider. My kids need Christmas presents more than I need cool software for what, ultimately, is a hobby.

As Jim West often laments, peer-reviewed research is prohibitively expensive, so I take very much a "buy what I can and get even more" approach. I can't justify the cost of Hermeneia, you'll have a hell of a time convincing me that that means I shouldn't read it, or that I should turn down an opportunity to acquire it by other means.

So if you're interested, and with the proviso that your actions in no way represent any copyright holder, send me a message, I'll send you a link to a blog with a snazzy collection of rapidshare links to fantastic books. If you've any kind of skill in beating protection schemes get me a license for Libronix 4.0

I hear it has Google fast searches.


Bit of dissension on the Biblioblogs top 50 possibly to go back to Conservative and Liberal leanings.

Jason Staples voices his concerns, and over on The Busybody Loren Rosson puts out a call for a "political compass" for exegetes.

One thing I think Jason and Loren really nail on the head is that it's really not that simple, and there's no easy solution for the categorization. Like Loren, I've been called both "Liberal" and "Conservative" in my conclusions, and either could be right, depending on how you look at it.

Though I think it was Loren himself (rather than his comments regarding Goodacre) that really nailed the situation on the head. Some time ago on Crosstalk (I think?) Loren noted that the simple reality is that the earliest Christians were conservative, and consequently, someone with conservative leanings, or who reaches conservative conclusions, is probably better suited to recognize that than a "quaint Bultmannian." (In a hurry, I'll edit links in later).

So, while I don't have Loren's political compass drawn up, I second his wish to see one. After all, I'm an atheist who's conclusions range from the hyper-skeptical to the prima facie, where does it leave me? While I don't rank on the "Biblioblogs top 50," that doesn't change the inadequacy of the categories.

Keep watching for the Doherty series, hopefully I'll have some time to follow up tonight.

Over on Hypotyposeis Stephen Carlson raises his concerns as well.

ETA Redux
The Political Jesus Blog weighs in on the issue as well.

Rod raises a decent comparison to the question of academic elitism here. Longtime readers might remember that The Dilettante Exegete was born out of precisely that dispute (Jim West, Michael Turton, and dilettantism), and my own distaste for it.

ETA Again
And now Jim West chimes in, and doesn't seem to see an issue with it. The trouble here is that Jim misses the caveat. He rightly notes that we all categorize things, and perceive them from those categorizations all the time.

But we also already have predilections based on those categorizations. A "hub" such as the Biblioblogs Top 50 should not play into those. If anything, it should discourage us from reaching our material with preconceptions in mind.

And the Verdict is In.

The Biblioblogs Top 50 has decided against the categorization. I think they got the right answer for the wrong reason, but here it is the results that matter, I suppose.

ETA Finale

So, for posterity's sake, here's the rundown on the discussion, discounting the acknowledgements of the final decision (at least to
my knowledge, if I'm missing anyone let me know!).

The Biblioblog Top 50: Categorizing all Biblioblogs: Conservative to Liberal

Outside the Building: Conservative or Liberal? Why Biblioblogs Should Not be Labeled

Hypotyposeis: Uh-oh: Redoing the Ill-Considered Attempt to Classify Biblioblogs as Liberal/Conservative

The Busybody: "Liberal" and "Conservative" Labels

Dr Jim West: They`re All Stirred Up Now

kata ta biblia: The Conservative-Liberal Continuum of Blogging (Again)

Political Jesus: Is This a Liberal or Conservative Biblioblog?

NT/History Blog: Opinions I Got 'Em

PEJE IESOUS: If You Label Me You Negate Me

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Chromium (Chrome) OS

Out with the Biblical and in with the Geeky for today.

For anyone who doesn't already know, Google is attempting to build a Netbook operating system,a linux distribution where the UI is the chrome browser, and the apps exist in the cloud.

The Chromium Project Homepage recently put up the (very beta) source code for developers to see what is offered. Get it here

Out of the gate seems too bloated. I can't help but wonder if there isn't more that could be stripped, or if there are more features coming.

A couple people indicated to me that they couldn't get it running in VMWare, and it would only start in VirtualBox. Since I know one of them was using Windows, I'll have to assume they both were and do what comes naturally: Blame Redmond. Because here it fired up like a dream (VMWare Workstation 7), as the screenshot attests.

The login, as I'm sure you can see, is pretty straightforward.  What might not be so obvious is that you don't create a local user.  Sign in is done through your Google account.  We're now officially in the cloud.

A local account still exists, in the event of network difficulties, but won't do you much good beyond trouble-shooting.

One thing that aggravated me here was the absence of a mouse pointer on the login screen.  That in itself wouldn't be so bad, except Shift+Tab won't move you to the previous field either.  In the event of a username typo, you have to go through with the bad login to get another crack at it. Of course, that issue doesn't exist if you're using a netbook, and the OS is made for netbooks, not VMs, so it's more an annoyance than a real caveat.

Once you're logged in your looking at the Chromium (unbranded Chrome) browser.  DNS is horrible. It's a bug in Ubuntu (linked to the avahi daemon, if memory serves), easily worked around by installing the pdns-recursor package.  I'd hoped an OS built around a browser--based on Ubuntu or not--would have a cure for this ailment, but it doesn't.  More time is spent resolving hosts than ever should be.

Once your up though, you're greeted with a tab opening to the Google homepage.  You'll notice the logo in the top left is white rather than the traditional Google Chrome colors.  That simply reflects that this is Chromium--unbranded Chrome.

Also missing, for anyone who's seen the screenshots on the Chromium page, are the quick tabs for GMail, Google Docs and Google Calendar.

Dissapointing as well is the drop menu (well, smaller tab creating a drop menu effect) seen on the Chromium page is absent here.  Instead we find a full tab with a list of programs (conspicuously absent as well is the notepad application).

Tasks either open up in a Javascript Window at the bottom of the browser, or in a new tab, depending on app.  When Chromium first debuted I though the new process for each tab was the stupidest thing I'd ever seen, useful only for debuggers.  Now, of course, it's obvious that they were just so far ahead of the curve I couldn't see them.

CTRL+ALT+T drops you down to the terminal, which will have sudo privilleges (be sure to set the password as directed on the build instructions!).  uname -a returns
Linux localhost 2.6.30-chromeos-intel-menlow #1 SMP $Date i686 GNU/Linux

The root file system is mounted read-only, but with sudo access it's easy enough just to remount it as +rw and remove the dpkg lock.  Haven't had a chance to see what, if anything, you can trick it into installing yet, but I don't imagine it'll be much, and nor should it be.  It's an OS for the cloud.  /etc/apt/sources.list is empty other than local sources.

Rather than fill the blog up with the output of fun stuff like dpkg -l or df -a, I threw together a little video of Chromium in action.

At this point it's not even so much a beta as it is a proof of concept. It's boot is lightning fast, but after that it's somewhat sluggish (even when running from an SD card installation, rather than the VM). You're not going to be putting it on your NetBook tomorrow, but there seems to be no escaping the fact that this is the future.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Is 1 Corinthians 15 Pauline?

The creedal confession given in 1 Cor 15 has always seemed a bit off to me. It seems pretty clearly a break in topic from 1 Cor 14, but lacks the markers given elsewhere for such strong breaks (eg 7.1). The doctrinal dispute implied (There is no resurrection!) seems somewhat odd in the light of 6.14. Paul's response to food laws only works if there is agreement on that response. If there isn't agreement, we might expect Paul to have his response a little more ready; 6:14 is a long, long way from 15. 15 opens telling the Corinthians that Paul is "informing" them of something they presumably already know. Doubtless Paul has already "informed" them, and even without speculation of what Paul's preaching consisted of, we can safely assert that he "informed" them based on 6.14 (on the difficulty of the verb here see TDNT 1:718, the difficulty is substantially resolved here if Paul didn't write it). Perhaps most importantly, it describes Paul's "gospel" as almost an exclusively past event. Which is markedly different from the more generally Pauline use of it as a present reality that extends into the future.

While commentators have noticed all of these irregularities, of course (I'm but a dilettante, you don't think I'm coming up with these on my own, do you?!), there hasn't been any real inquiry (as near as I can find) into the possibility that 1Cor 15 isn't authentic. While the possibility has been raised that it represents a different letter, I'm unaware of any serious look at the possibility that it is not Pauline. Robert Price wrote a brief piece on the possibility, but it is rather standard Price fare--lofty rhetoric, but no clothes on the emperor, it's a look, but calling it a "serious" look is probably more generous than we should be. The piece might raise an eyebrow, it's unlikely to win many converts.

I'd venture the reason for this is two-fold: Firstly, largely by necessity there is a general reluctance to question the manuscript evidence in the case of the Paulines. We have to start with the assumption that the manuscripts are telling us the truth. The burden, of course, rests on the one claiming interpolation, and it is a lofty burden to bear.

The second reason is that it provides such a nice, convenient definition of what it was to be a member of the burgeoning Christian movement. We can handily point to it and declare that an early Christian is someone who believes that, for, "I or they, so do we preach, and so have you believed."

So, with the culmination of my five brief points on Doherty's book tomorrow or the next day, I think it might be an interesting exercise to see where the evidence takes us if we look seriously at the possibility. I'm suspicious of the passage, but not convinced in either direction, so my conclusion may well surprise myself more than anyone else.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Five Things I Want to See in Earl Doherty's New Book. (pt II)

We continue our series with the second on the list of five things I'd like to see (but probably won't, since I'm increasingly disinclined to read the book. . .it might be more apt to call this 5 caveats around Doherty's argument and argumentation)

Less reliance on Authority

The best known example of this tendency is probably Doherty's suggested translation of kata sarka and en sarki. Distressingly little is offered in the way of genuine argument in favour of the translation, simply that it could be "useful" and that C K Barrett "suggested" it. In Doherty's defense, he's expanded on this a bit since then, both in discussions online and on his website, but in his book the absence of elaboration is disappointing.

Most of the discussion online has centered around whether or not Earl has quote mined here (he has), but even if we allow that Earl is using Barrett fairly, if I say "Then Barrett's wrong too," then what? Barrett doesn't argue for Doherty, that much everyone agrees on, and Doherty doesn't offer much in the way of argument for himself, other than the distinct possibility that it's a distinct possibility. How do we know that? Barrett says so!

I can't help but think a coherent argument could be pieced together (Clement in particular offers a nice passage that could be used), and while I'm not sure if it could be convincing or not, it's a sight better than what's offered now, which is marginally more than nothing.

If we suggest that kai be rendered "and," we're on pretty firm ground, and could casually point to any one of a hundred sources and call it good. But when we suggest "according to the flesh" represents an Aristotlean sphere, we should probably back that up. Extensively.

Another example can be found in Doherty's response to my argument on 2 Peter mentioned below. Rather than address the argument that the transfiguration represents Markan invention, Doherty casually points to Koester, and suggests that since "even Koester" thinks it is independent, this is sufficient. It isn't. Koester doesn't address the arguments I raised (or if he does, he doesn't in the cite Earl provided), and consequently, from my position, that just means he's wrong too.

He seems to approach some subjects with the misguided notion that it's enough to cite sources with conclusions he needs, without engaging the arguments for or against his position. The end result is a piece that is applauded by those already sympathetic, but does nothing to convince those opposed.

Five Things I Want to See in Earl Doherty's New Book. (pt I)

So Earl Doherty has finally put out his "second revision" of The Jesus Puzzle, though given both the new title and the fact that it has ballooned to 800 some pages, "second revision" is probably a poor choice of words. It's a new book.

So what would I most like to see?

Less rhetoric.

Readers might recall a pair of posts here awhile ago dealing with the question of 2 Peter's knowledge of Mark's gospel. It addressed Doherty's assertions regarding the term "delow" as being a "revelatory verb." Doherty withdrew the certainty of his wording in discussion (though it still stands on his site), but downplayed as nothing more than "colorful language."

In similar fashion, in The Jesus Puzzle he makes the bold assertion that the lack of artefact veneration is "perhaps the single strongest" piece of evidence in his favour (p 75). Except that history tells us a different story: Artefact veneration was the exception, not the rule, and his expectation is anachronistic. In correspondence he withdrew that assertion as well, demoting it to "another piece." The demotion is still undue--it's not a "piece" of anything--but at least it's more reasonable. The phrasing was apparently just more color.

The problem with this "colorful language" is that it always speaks to a degree of certainty, or a strength of evidence that overstates his case. The popular reader (Doherty's self-described target audience) doesn't know if he's presenting delow properly. They don't know how common artefact veneration was. They don't know that Doherty's misrepresenting the evidence, even if unintentionally.

I'll grant that it's probably accidental, and that 'colorful language' results in inaccurate presentation. But it's certainly easy to see how someone less generous might prefer the term "disingenuous" or even "dishonest" in place of "colorful."