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Trying to stay open-minded
August 30th, 2005 by Paul Nikkel

And who says history is linear? The past seems to be swinging by again as Ralph asks (in a non-rhetorical
but suspiciously disingenuous question) “What is open-source biblical studies?” Tim snappily provided a
very nice sum up of what’s been generally lumped together under the rubric of (as he rightly names it) Open
Biblical Studies (I think the moniker “open source scholarship/biblical studies” is actually my fault). I am in
agreement with Tim’s summary but would like to add that this is all more of a concept than a concrete
family. I think there is tendency among people to react strongly against one small part of the concept (like
new models of peer review) and subsequently dismiss the surrounding points; while all the elements Tim
mentions compliment each other strongly they are not all primary elements (particularly not in initial stages
of development). Certainly an issue such as open access to texts can be tackled separately from
experimenting with peer review models. (If anyone really wants to read more I’d recommend reading the
August flurry (Sansblogue has a good summary), some of the old deinde posts (Open source scholarship,
response to Tim ), and to flatter myself a paper I gave at AIBI (in Tim Bulkeley’s session), Through an
open window: Exploring openness in biblical studies (.doc format).

In response to some blogging on the “abolishment of peer review” I have a few thoughts. I think it is easy
for the guild, the academe, whatever we want to call it, to be extremely cautious and definitely defensive
about any changes in the current structure of peer review. It is after all the primary element in establishing
the current face of scholarship, from assigning university positions to validating texts. I would reiterate that
no model of open scholarship that I am familiar with seeks to “abolish” peer review in favour of some form
of publishing anarchy. Rather what I observe is the search for a model of peer review that more accurately
and efficiently reflects the true “real-world” process of peer review. I doubt many scholars would disagree
that the current model of formal peer review is flawed and that a published peer reviewed article is often
poor indication as to whether it is going to be a worthwhile read. I agree that current peer review does set a
minimum bar of some type and does clear out much of the dross we would read otherwise (a quick Google
search can show that), however it does not reflect scholarly quality with any degree of distinction. For
example, I think most of us would heed a much cited article in a poor journal more than a never cited article
in an “upper-tier” journal. That’s a simple example of informal peer review that we currently use outside of
the established formal peer review process…that’s a simple example of how much data we lose because we
(biblical studies) don’t employ a method to tabulate and evaluate the informal indicators of quality.

I have so much more and so little left to say about this subject. I generally feel like I am talking to a wall
and sincerely believe that the guild/academe/discipline is not ready for any major changes in traditional
models. I think any change that comes will be organic and come up from below, from those who are
passionate about it and those who take the small steps to make their scholarship open in some way (even
something as simple as publishing their work on their university website). I also see blogs as evidence of an
organic growth towards a model of open collaboration, or at the least increasing the future possibility of a
model’s acceptance.

Following all this dithering about I do have some, presumably?, good news. Earlier this spring there was
discussion about an open access repository for self-archiving scholarly work as well as placing available
online articles. I noted at the time that we were working towards just this idea here and the implementation
was imminent. Unfortunately the events of summer got in the way and only recently have we moved things
forward again. At this point everything is in place and Danny has been poking around a bit behind scenes to
make sure things are working. What we need now are some “beta” testers to not only play around with the
system but also to give us suggestions on the way the submission process works, category framework, group
organization etc. (and of course any bugs). If you are interested in helping us out please send an email to
admin deinde org (fill in the blanks with @ and . ) and we’ll set up a user account for you. We really need
some help on this and would really appreciate anyone who can spare a little time and bother.

Posted in Uncategorized | Edit | No Comments »

August 30th, 2005 by Paul Nikkel

Unofficial Google statistics:

Da Vinci Code: 25 million worldwide sales

Left Behind Series: 60 million worldwide sales (series)

Posted in Uncategorized | Edit | No Comments »

Why has no one responded to Left Behind?
August 30th, 2005 by Danny Zacharias

My title may be a bit of an overstatement, but hopefully it will have its intended effect.

Last week while catching up on my reading of Scot McKnight’s blog, I came across his top-10 list of books
against the Left-Behind series. I was grateful for this list, a few titles I had not heard of. But upon reflection
of this list, I have a question to pose: Why has there not been any books written by experts to counter Left
Behind’s gross handling of scripture and deception of the masses? Perhaps I am wrong and there is, but I
have not heard of one that directly goes against it (here’s a good title, [i:4ba7ec6144ʺ″>Why the Left Behind
Series should be Left Behind[/i:4ba7ec6144ʺ″>). I think that this is all the more curious when there are like a
dozen books by scholars who have spoke out against he DaVinci Code, and numerous articles in countless
magazines and periodicals as well (here is Jim Davila’s blog pointing out the latest).
So why have scholars chosen to not speak out in book form against Left Behind? Well I have a few
guesses, some more plausible than others:
1) We are all closet pre-millenial pre-trib thinkers and can’t in good conscience speak against it. We’re
hoping they are right and we’ll all be raptured.
2) We know too many people, family and friends, who understand eschatology according to dispensational
thought and don’t want to alienate them (or more likely, we don’t want to feel alienated)
3) We are wary of critiquing the household of faith
4) We do not want to increase the level of distrust that is already aimed towards Christian higher education
(see Michael Pahl’s post in relation to this point)
5) We are afraid of our seminaries and institutions losing monetary support from people who are deeply
routed in dispensational thought.
6) Perhaps some scholars have approached some popular Christian publishers and have been rejected.

There may be other reasons that I cannot think of. I hope I am not sounding too judgmental because I am
being self-critical as well. I always have a tough time critiquing dispensational eschatology, partly because
it is my church heritage and my family still holds to it, partly because I am not the greatest at confrontation,
and partly because I am afraid of losing some credibility with members of my church. Despite this, I think
something needs to come out in book form which thoroughly and graciously helps readers understand the
flaw’s of dispensational eschatology and illuminates them to understand God’s Word better. There is no
better time than now, considering the continued popularity of Left Behind. The response to the DaVinci
Code was almost immediate, unfortunately we cannot say the same in this instance. I am no expert in the
field, but I hope someone will rise to the occasion.

UPDATE: Well how about this. About two hours after I post this, I get the latest RBL and lo and behold
there is a book that has come out aimed at correcting the Left Behind eschatology. Unfortunately the title
does not reflect this, but the book review by David Matthewson makes it clear that [i:4ba7ec6144ʺ″>The
Raputure Exposed: The Message of Hope in the
Book of Revelation[/i:4ba7ec6144ʺ″> by Barbara R. Rossing does go at length to counter Left Behind
eschatology. You can read the full review here.

See also the comments to this post. Left Behind has indeed outsold The Davinci Code (although the count
figures the entire series together I think).

UPDATE 2: In case those reading on RSS don’t read the comments I wanted to post a comment on this
[quote:4ba7ec6144ʺ″>Possible reasons few are responding to Left Behind:

1. While Left Behind is a relatively recent phenomena, its roots are in Dispensationalism, which has had no
dearth of analysis in its 150+ history (tooting-your-own-horn alert: I wrote an article called “Revelation and
the Hermeneutics of Dispensationalism” for Anglican Theological Review almost twenty years ago).

2. There is a vast swath of the religious world that is completely oblivious to Dispensationalism. When I
taught a course in the Synoptics at a Roman Catholic seminary in NY a few years back, none of those
proto-priests had ever heard of “the Rapture.” Nor had they seen any bumper stickers that read, “In case of
Rapture, this car will be unoccupied.” Similarly, I’ve known Episcopalians who read the Left Behind books,
but simply as a kind of science fiction, unaware of their theological underpinnings.

3. Maybe we just never get around to it, because it’s low priority. When I did a presentation on
apocalypticism and Mark right around Y2K, I read the most recent Left Behind book, thinking it would be
topical. The presentation went too long, the Dispensationalist stuff got pushed back to after lunch, and most
people left before lunch, so they never heard my brilliant analysis
William H. Shepherd [/quote:4ba7ec6144ʺ″>
Posted in Uncategorized | Edit | 4 Comments »

Blogger-Cooler Latest: Open-Source & peer-review
August 29th, 2005 by Danny Zacharias

Technically I am incorrect in saying that this whole open-source discussion is the latest talk around the
blogger-cooler, because Tim at Sansblogue has been discussing it for awhile. However, the discussion has
narrowed a bit by a question posed by Ed over on Ralph: What is open-source biblical studies? Good
question Ed, thanks for asking. I had to laugh when I read it because I talk about it with Paul often, I have
been reading Sansblogue’s thoughts, but I realized, I don’t even know what the definition is! (it’s funny
how this can happen). Upon the heels of Ed’s question came Tim’s definition, which I thought was quite
good, it can be read here. Enter Jim West, who rightly questions the idea of peer review in open-source
scholarship. Jim West’s post is spun off a conversation he had with Jim Davila.
[quote:2ee360e3cc”>Jim’s devotion to peer reviewed journals struck me as a bit narrow (for it implies,
doesn’t it, that unless an idea is found in a peer reviewed journal it is of no value and need not be
If This is indeed an accurate portrayal of devotion to peer-review, it does strike me as odd indeed, because
the medium of blogging seems to be the antithesis of peer-review, does it not? Nothing is peer-reviewed in
a blog, but there are some very interesting and scholarly blog posts that I consider authoritative. Should I
not? I think for instance of Jim Davila’s posts on Temples in the past weeks, Tyler Williams posts on the
Psalms superscriptions, Scot McKnight’s work on Emergent thought. All these blogs I have mentioned I
consider worthy of not only reading, but being in conversation with published works on the same subject.
(this is a spin-off question: are we to the point where there needs to be an official ‘SBL’ way of citing
However, I think Jim West’s point may be a little overpronounced. Yes I agree we owe Luther for not
submitting to ‘peer-review’, but can we say the same about Montanus or Marcion? It was peer-review that
corrected much heresy in the past and has provided us with confessional creeds that the church still uses
today. I Guess what I am saying is that it can’t be all or nothing on either side. Peer Review ensures us that
the work has at least adhered to some sort of standard, but there are times (like the Luther example) when
caution will need to be thrown to the wind. Peer Review does not guarantee truth (you are right Jim) but it
can at least confirm that the would-be truth speaker has done their homework. Let’s think about this whole
bible curriculum ordeal: if only they submitted to some sort of peer-review of knowledgeable people on the
subject, it may not have happened. Jim West ends his post saying:

[quote:2ee360e3cc”>It is nothing less than the old cliche of the smoke filled back room where the good ole’
white boys gather around the card table to buttress the careers of their friends while they ignore those who
are not worthy of their attention because “their ideas didn’t appear in the Journal of High-Falootin’
Research” published by Brill and costing 95 Dollars for each issue published on a quarterly
While I agree with you that Brill charges too much and the idea of peer-review, too strictly adhered to is
reminiscent of ivory tower (or pure blood vs. mud blood thinking for you Harry Potter fans) thinking, let us
not forget that peer-reviewers for journals don’t get their pockets filled with Brill’s inflated pricing. It is
done voluntarily, is it not?

Back to the open-source thing: the idea of not only peer-review but open creation has always unsettled me,
I confess. The idea that someone who thinks they have all the answers changing valuable content on open
source projects is a scary thought. This is why I think Tim is right, some sort of peer-review or other
standard needs to be set upon open-source projects. This gives anyone who wishes to collaborate the
freedom to not only contribute to a project, but to bounce their ideas off someone who is interested in the
same project, and everyone should think this is a good thing, otherwise they themselves are acting in a
ivory-tower mindset. And while the ivory tower mentality can still potentially rear its ugly head, I would
think/hope that the very concept of open-source projects being free to all would dissipate such notions.

To end this long-winded post, I would like to ask another question regarding open-source: Is it
copyrighted? Does anyone hold claim to it, or do all the contributors have to go into it recognizing that their
work is now open to use (and abuse) by any who come by it? ttfn

UPDATE: This comes from a comment to this blog, and has some good info, Thanks Nate (sorry don’t
know your last name!)
[quote:2ee360e3cc”>Most open source work is copyrighted. However it may (or may not be) licensed to
allow someone else to change or copy.

As one example, we can look at Wikipedia. Their submission policy is summarized here:
Under the Gnu Free Documentation License (GFDL) you allow others to change and reproduce your work.
On a wiki, even an anonymous yokel can run with what you have written and take it somewhere you
wouldn’t want it to go.
However, even after submitting an article to Wikipedia, you still are the legal owner of the work and can
license it under different terms to others.

A public wiki would not be the only means to an open-source journal. It all depends on how you license the
work you do. Much open-source software takes a less radical approach - the developers grant that anyone
can take the source they download and freely modify it. However, this is not to say that anyone can modify
the source that is available for download. The developers generally are the only ones who can make changes
to the original source code, to ensure the quality of their product.

Creative Commons has a number of well-worded licenses that you can apply to your own work:

Perhaps an “attribution, no derivatives” license coupled with a public forum where peers can suggest
changes to the work would be the sort of solution for orthodox biblical scholarship.

hope this helps,

Posted in Uncategorized | Edit | 1 Comment »

Catching up with McKnight
August 23rd, 2005 by Danny Zacharias

I’ve just spent most of the morning catching up with Scot McKnight’s blog, Jesus Creed. Wow, what great
stuff. I find Scot’s blog to have a great balance between academic and pastoral (I find Michael Pahl’s Stuff
of Earth to have this great balance as well). I have appreciated his top 10 lists of books in various fields of
study, his sagely comments on writing well, and especially his continuing dialogue with the emergent
movement, which I have an interest in as well. If your not a regular reader of the Jesus Creed, you should
be. Thanks Dr. McKnight!!

Posted in Uncategorized | Edit | 1 Comment »

more on the Bible curriculum ordeal
August 23rd, 2005 by Danny Zacharias
thanks to BibleInterp website for this link to a fine new article on the whole ordeal between Mark Chancey
and the Texas Freedom Network and the The National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools.
Click here to read the full article.

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Accordance Training Seminars
August 19th, 2005 by Danny Zacharias

Here are 5 solidified dates and locations for upcoming Accordance training Seminars;

* Orlando, FL, Circle Community Church, Saturday Sept 17, 9 am to 5 pm
* Dallas, TX, Dallas Theological Seminary, Saturday Sept 24, 9 am to 5 pm
* Langley, BC, Trinity Western University, Friday Sept 30, 1 to 5 pm
* Vancouver, BC, Regent Carey Library, Monday Oct 3, 9 am to 5 pm
* Philadelphia, PA, SBL Meeting, Friday Nov 18, 4 pm to 6:30 pm

Also, a new article on the Kaufmann Hebrew Mishna has been posted on the Accordance website, by Casey
Toews. See here.

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Discussion around the blogger-cooler
August 14th, 2005 by Danny Zacharias

I dont know if this is native to Canada, but interesting banter among colleagues is often called ‘water-
cooler’ discussion, because you meet and talk around the water cooler in the office (its the healthier way of
talking over a cup of coffee). So I figure whenever more than one blogger talks about a particular issue, its
kind of like were talking around the water cooler, only its the blogger-cooler. There has been two (among
many) interesting discussions going on around the blogger-cooler that I’d like to join in.

1) my wife never reads my blog, she probably can’t even remember the name of the website. And she has
never read any of my papers (I’m not sure she ever will). This actually used to upset me a little, I figured
she’s a Christian, and I write about the Bible, so why isn’t she interested? I’ve realized the stupidity of that
line of reasoning of course, and I’ve come to realize that this isn’t unique to me (thanks to the other
bloggers, I feel I have even more kinship with you now ). I also don’t think this is specific to our field;
my cousin is an electrical engineer, and his wife doesn’t care about the stuff he does either. Frankly, it may
be easier that way. I wonder what it would be like if my wife did take an interest and disagreed with me
alot. I’m not sure I would be able to handle that! I can’t imagine what the home of John J. Collins and
Adela Yarbro Collins is like!! (I’ve only met John) Two excellent biblical scholars who I’m sure disagree
and can argue their case with precision!! So no, my wife doesn’t read my blog, I’m not sure I want her too.
I can read my JBL when it comes in the mail, and she can read her Oprah magazine Ying yang, there is
balance in the force.

2) What kind of NT scholar am I? Well just a budding one now, in training. Alot of good stuff has been
said, and I’d have to agree with Michael Pahl and others who have said that early in your career there is a
temptation to become an expert in one particular and specific area. I can sympathize with that, and feel that
pressure as a student. You want to make your mark, contribute to scholarship. But the reailty is that I’m not
going to write any magnum opus on the NT any time soon(maybe in my 50’s or 60’s). So what do you do
now? The ’safest’ solution is to specialize in one particular area.
One thing I think many of us would agree on (though I’m not sure anyone outright said it) is that I want to
be a good and effective teacher. Often times scholars (and budding scholars like-myself) fall into the
mindset that being a scholar is about writing essays and articles, with the business of teaching at our
seminaries and local churches being the thing you do ’cause ya gotta’. I can’t help but think of Mark
Chancey’s latest post regarding fundamentalism in the area of public schools. Would the situation be
different if biblical and theological scholars spent more time teaching their students and the public rather
than busting their rear-end off to publish a paper that probably only a few hundred will read?
This spins into my final point, I want to be relevant and engaging with people outside of academia. I
applaud greatly people like Scot McKnight(The Jesus Creed) and Luke Timothy Johnson(The Creed) [these
two came to mind first, but there are many others”> who have written books aimed at the general audience.
More close to home for myself, I very much appreciate and wish to follow the example set by my own
profs; Dr. Lee McDonald, after spending the better part of a decade working on issues of Canon (fyi, the
third and final release of his book [i:86ba068426ʺ″>The Formation of the Christian Biblical
Canon[/i:86ba068426ʺ″> is due out this year) will be writing a book on the same issue for lay people to be
carried in popular Christian bookstores; Dr. Jonathan Wilson serves on the environmental ethics committee
of the wider university and has served on previous ethic and bioethics boards; Glenn Wooden teaches
Sunday School at his home church regularly; Craig Evans just recently finished a Background commentary
on the NT written with a Christian book distributor which aims at the wider church and is carried in the
pop.Christian stores, and has also been involved with recent TV documentaries on Jesus and the NT. And
all of them regularly fill pulpits throughout the year all through Nova Scotia. In one sense I wonder, How do
they do it? The answer is, all of them know that there is life outside the SBL meetings and feel compelled in
one degree or another to contribute to the church and the spreading of the kingdom of God.
So there is my long and not very specific answer. I want to specialize in a specific area that will ‘put me on
the map’ (isn’t this what a dissertation is all about?), I want to keep a foot in all aspects of NT studies, I
want to be a good and effective teacher, helping my future students understand and intepret the Bible for
themselves and their future students and congregations, and I want to contribute to life outside my office
doors. (I feel as if I should put my hand over my heart and make some sort of pledge now ) Last but not
least, I want my two sons to be able to read biblical Greek before english, and if they can’t do that, then
they ought to be the next Tiger Woods. I can help with the first, but not the second

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Some Accordance news
August 14th, 2005 by Danny Zacharias

My in-laws have are currently visiting us (and the new baby) and so I haven’t had too much time to blog.
Eveyone is napping now, so I wanted to post some quick notes.

Accordance has some updates, the first is involving their latest version 6.7, with the Accordance widget.
They have made some modifications to make it even better. I have used the widget already, it is fabulous. I
myself use Amnesty which allows me to place widgets on my desktop, so the Accordance widget is
especially handy!

Accordance has also posted the first in hopefully a long series of articles on specific modules. The first is on
the Greek Pseudepigrapha by mighty Rex Koivisto (I call him mighty because he does almost all of the
tagging for the Accordance modules—kudos to you Dr.Koivisto!). I think this is an excellent idea because
the Accordance website can only tell you so much about each module. These more comprehensive articles
tell you exactly what each module has, and gives you some sense of their overall function and usefulness.

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Bookends 8.1.1
August 10th, 2005 by Mark Cheeseman

For those using Bookends, version 8.1.1 is now available.
Here is a list of new features.

So far I’ve downloaded it and installed it without problem, but haven’t had a chance to try out any of the
new features.

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