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Phillip

John
Just to comment of the last aspect--family friendly--I worked for SBL while I was completing my PhD at Emory. The fine folks there were some of my daughter's first playmates and, on one occasion, Kent was even caught on a conference call while holding my 6 month old. Better people, there are not.

Peter Bekins

I, for one, go to SBL to get away from my family :). Its scotch and cigars 'till the wee hours of the morning for me.

JohnFH

Phillip,

What sweet memories you pass on.

Peter,

Too funny. I thought you had that dazed but happy look at the last SBL. Nodding away in approval no matter who was presenting.

So long as you weren't expected to do it every day, I'm guessing you wouldn't mind taking the wife and kids to a great museum or art gallery or play on the margins of a conference. Maybe a fine restaurant. Do you prefer laser tag or paint ball?

The logistics, to be sure, and the finances, are daunting. But I've a few ideas on that score I think might be worth exploring.

Rev. Bryant J. Williams III

Dear John,

You said, "It is the case that I’ve enjoyed bringing teenage children along with me to annual meetings, and they have enjoyed participating in the social life dimension of a meeting. They would have to be crazy to want to attend a scholarly presentation; on the other hand, there is no better test of communication skills than to talk about a biblical text in a thoroughly informed way to a bunch of teenagers. Do they get what you are saying? Can you say something to them that grabs them and doesn’t let them go?"

This is true of most scholarship today. It is so esoteric that many will not admit that they understand what was said. They will just nod their heads as if giving the appearance of understanding. The use of scholastic terminology so that one sounds or gives the appearance of being scholarly and that one understands what he/she is presenting is NOT scholarly. I do understand that one must come to grasp with a certain amount of terminology in the field one works with, but most of the terminology being used is such that it masks incomptence or ignorance or both.

I remind myself of the following quote (do not remember who wrote it):

"If you can't explain things in simple terms which almost anyone can understand, then you don't really understand it yourself."

When it comes to children and teenagers this is especially true.

Rev. Bryant J. Williams III

JohnFH

Bryant,

I think there is a place for scholarship that requires the proverbial 10,000 hours of training to make sense out of it.

I think it's fine, too, to be okay with not understanding specialized research. For my dissertation in Rome, I invited some of my confirmation students to come to the defense (it was an excuse to celebrate afterwards with them, which they wanted to do). They were perfect Roman kids, a little bit rough on the edges, with a big heart. So there I was, along with Jan Soggin and Mario Liverani, droning on about neo-Assyrian imperialism as a theological problem in Isaiah 10:5-15 and elsewhere, and Peppe says to Mario, a little bit too loudly, "How do you think it's going?" "Pretty good, I think. I don't understand a thing."

Sweethearts.

Still, I wanted them to get the gist of it, too. I didn't have the skills to do so at the time, but I've worked on them since. It's not that hard to understand why imperialism is both a virtual necessity of political life and a huge problem for one who believes in justice at the same time. It's a great discussion, and teenagers are sometimes take the subject matter with the seriousness it deserves better than jaded adults.

So we are ultimately in agreement.

Tim Bulkeley

no one has yet seen fit to create a high-quality online encyclopedia of the Bible in the English language. In that sense, Wibilex, put together by the German Bible Society, provides an excellent model.

In fact it is much stronger than that SBL looked at and rejected the idea of supporting a proposal from an International team of scholars (including an SBL ex-staff member) to do just that!

JohnFH

Lack of funds? Stepping on the toes of print publishers?

Tim Bulkeley

There would not have been a big funding commitment, and with SBL backing funding might have been relatively easy to find for such a project. The second guess may well be nearer the mark, but I couldn't possibly comment.

JohnFH

I think funding is an issue. To do it well, it requires at least one person who is full-time on it. That's how Wibilex works.

I think it also makes sense to conceive of the encyclopedia as a vehicle for encouraging more people to purchase high-quality print and electronic biblical scholarship. I think the encyclopedia could be designed with "seamless" links to publishers.

Tim Bulkeley

I agree about the links to publishers, or at least booksellers, but as someone approaching retirement I suspect there are possibilities for starting something with less than a full-time person, but you are right there would be costs. We were not asking SBL to meet them itself though... again there are possible "creative" ways to handle that, e.g. approach a Bible software company and offer them the right to use the material in exchange for financial assistance or programming assistance with setting up the project. This would not give them something as "good" as exclusive rights to a print dictionary, but it would offer something in some ways better as it would increasingly as years passed be updated... and potentially up to date.

JohnFH

That's an interesting idea, Tim. Perhaps someone from Logos or Accordance will read this thread and be inspired.

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