How to write a good dissertation – the Atlantic (humor)

This is the same interview linked to in the post below—repackaged for those of you looking for a little dissertation writing help (and not caring much about story-telling). Jack Hitt (as if you know or care) in an Atlantic interview:

I have spent a long time looking for short cuts to the answer to this very question. But I haven’t found any. So, begin by over-reporting and over-researching everything. . . Begin the process of re-reading all of your research. Bail out of re-reading all of your research by convincing yourself that what you really need is a long walk to think about “structure.” Walk toward your shoes and look at them. Blow off the walk altogether. Descend into a shame spiral. Now, catch up on your HBO tivo’d backlog. After several hours, take another ride on the shame spiral. Lumber over to the desk. . . Write down the big ideas that form the superstructure of the piece. Realize you are a pompous git for thinking that ideas have anything to do with it and go back to that list of details. Set it aside. Read some blogs. . . Fiddle with writing a few more paragraphs. Microwave your cold cup of coffee for the third time. Go over your notes again. Yell irrationally at your spouse/child/dog/a bare wall. Now, kick the wall. Limp. Review. . . Paste a large sheet of paper to a wall and, standing up with a fresh cup of coffee in your hand, outline the piece in really big letters. Realize that you’ve misunderstood the point of the entire story all this time. Scream . . . Read the latest draft-like substance and think that, with a little work, maybe this won’t be too embarrassing. Feel mildly excited that there could actually be something here worth reading eventually. . .

[I could have done without the last line of his description, but some of what he says could put a smile on your face. We are not alone.]

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Baby rush (Moses comic)

Today is Liam’s 3rd birthday. He’s been a little nervous about this day for a while, but seems to be warming up to the idea after we sang him happy birthday this morning. His sisters are really excited!!

Itinerary: Cake, popcorn & ceremony at school this morning; cake at lunch; and cake at grandma’s house this weekend.

Today’s Reverend Fun Cartoon:

Exodus 2.1-9 Baby Rush

[Lots more fun Bible cartoons at]

Just by serendipitous coincidence, Michael Heiser (The Naked Bible) has this post today: Moses, Sargon, and the Exposed Child motif in Ancient Literature:

Here’s an interesting article that advanced students of the Old Testament should read and digest. Egyptologist Donald Redford traces what he calls the “exposed child” motif through ancient literature. By “exposed child” he means stories that have the elments of the Moses birth in them. Redford’s goal isn’t specifically to deal with the Moses story, but that’s inevitable. The Sargon story in particular is very similar to the Moses story:

The identities of N. T. Wrong; an African perspective on the historical quest

As noted by Mark Goodacre speculation about the identity of Bishop NT (Jeremiah) Wrong continues, with contributions from James McGrath On the trail of N.T. Wrong, On the Trail of N.T. Wrong, Part 2 and On the Trail of N.T. Wrong, Part 3, with J. C. Baker weighing in with The Identity of N.T. Wrong and More Proof that Mark Goodacre is N.T. Wrong, and Pat McCullough adding his own suggestion on The Identity of N.T. Wrong.

One of the main drawbacks of Western thinking is it’s tendency towards “either/or” dichotomies. In the historical quest for the N.T. Wrong, what is needed is some good African “both/and” scholarship.

  • he’s from Chicago
  • he’s from New Zealand
  • he’s from Durham
  • he’s a biblioblog guru
  • he’s NT Gateway
  • his focus is ANE, Hebrew Bible (categories and blogroll)
  • he’s Jewish and Arab and goyim
  • he’s gay and straight
  • he’s a feminist
  • and he’s a she?
  • . . .
  • (add your own identifiers here)

Any and all members of the Guild of Biblical Minimalists (listed and unlisted) are suspect. He may have started out as one, but the first two identities in my above list appear to be irrefutable empirical facts –  strong evidence for the multi-present identities of N.T. Wrong (all you need is the name and password and you too could be WRONG – though maybe not as smart, funny, or irreverent). The tagline expands, the posts become more prolific and diverse, and former outsiders suddenly vow not to tell (are they now contributing too?). I suppose this is what McGrath is getting at.

Think about it folks . . . “both/and” not “either/or”.

The Gilgamesh Epic for Apes

For those of you that don’t know or remember, the Gilgamesh Epic is the oldest work of literature. It is of special interest to biblical scholars because of it’s intersection with Genesis – e.g. the flood narrative. (For more about the epic itself, see this summary or  translation. )

Recently it was translated for apes. It’s worth downloading the PDF Ape Gilgamesh Epic and taking a look – definitely my reading level. (HT: NT Wrong).


“What financial crisis?” rural Africans (Kenyan cartoon)

Daily Nation cartoon:

Update: Check out What an African Woman Thinks about it:

. . . So it turns out that this is an equal opportunity year: we have two global crises on our hands, The Global Food Crisis, and the Global Financial Crisis, each attacking at different extremes of the pyramid while all the while piling pressure on that sometimes bloated middle.

When we look back at this year from the distance of the next, I wonder what we will think about how much time and other resources we spent dealing with each of these crises, and what that will tell us about who we are. . .

Right on. Read the whole post: The Big GCF

NOT The Rt. Rev. Dr. Bishop N. T. Wright

One of the expected highlights of this conference of the British New Testament Conference (BNTC) was to be the opportunity to meet Bishop NT Wright. He was on the program to welcome us, and when he didn’t show, we were told he would be here today. Unfortunately, all we have is a shameless, agnostic (albeit better looking) imposter. Look carefully at the nametag.

James Crossley Sheffield, (Earliest Christian History blog)

How to waste your theological education

Derek Brown has created a great list of ways to waste your theological eduction (Thanks: Bookseller)

[Here is a maybe-not-so-random sampling]

2. Perfect the fine art of corner-cutting by not really researching for a paper but instead writing your uneducated and unsubstantiated opinions and filling them in with strategically placed footnotes.
8. Practice misquoting and misrepresenting positions and ideas you don’t agree with. Be lazy and don’t attempt to understand opposing views; instead, nurse your prejudices and exalt your opinions by superficial reading and listening.
16. Don’t read to learn; read only to refute what you believe is wrong.
25. Spend more time blogging than studying.
26. Avoid chapel and other opportunities for corporate worship.
31. Master Calvin, Owen, and Edwards, but not the Law, Prophets, and Apostles.
32. Gain knowledge in order to merely teach others. Don’t expend the effort it takes to deal with your own heart.
40. Appear spiritual and knowledgeable at all costs. Don’t let others see your imperfections and ignorance, even if it means you have to lie.
41. Love books and theology and ministry more than the Lord Jesus Christ.
45. Don’t really try to learn the languages – let Bible Works do all the work for you.

[Guilty as charged on some of these counts ;-(.]

Read the whole list; there are a lot of other great ones.

What I missed last week while I was gone – lots (Links & Quotes)

Due to the overwhelming number of great posts and my off-line methodology, I lost track of all the referrals. So here’s preliminary a hat tip to all of you in my Google Reader.

New Resources:

Bible Maps and geography – Tyndale Tech. Lots of great links including Bible Mapper is a fully interactive, highly accurate Bible mapping system that helps you quickly and easily create customized maps of the Holy Lands or study a particular period and aspect of Bible history. FREE! Click here to download.

Everything you could ever want from the Septuagint-interlinear-Greek-bible (free downloads). Like Jim said, there’s a lot there.

UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology: Open Version, – peer reviewed. (See Alan Lenzi’s description). The Alan Lenzi who is “a graduate of WTS (MAR 1997) . . . no longer a Christian” and Satan’s press agent. (Hey, he got my attention.)


**John Hobbins lists a “few”(? 36!!) good blogs that have caught his eye all over again, or for the first time. It’s a great list that includes one with “thoughts on the Bible, family, Africa, Kenya, social justice” 😉 (Feeling like I’m already on the bubble every month, and it’s only month four.)

Post of the week: “Better Be “Poor” in Malawi”. I find this true of Africa in more ways than one, even if Victor’s examples are hard-core rural. (Victor Kaonga)

But there can be a much darker side to rural life in Africa (Paradoxes-on-Friday)

Doing Short-Terms Missions without Doing Long-Term Harm Most STM trips violate basic principles of effective poverty-alleviation and have the potential to do considerable harm both to low-income people and to ourselves. (Thanks: Kruse Kronicle )

Rather than going as “doers,” some powerful dynamics can be unleashed if STM teams go as “learners” from the poor or as “co-learners” with the poor. Consistent with an asset-based model, going as a learner emphasizes the gifts which poor people have to share with others: the spiritual, intellectual, physical, and social resources that God has already placed in their community.

Dave Richard’s begins critiquing micro-finance. (April 20)

Ben Witherington3 – NT rhetoric handbook Ch. 2 – The History and Practice of Ancient Rhetoric.

MANY MORE LINKS BELOW Continue reading

The 3 stages of malaria

This is in honor of World Malaria Day (Malaria Consortium) and especially all of you who have have survived malaria. I don’t remember where I got these stages (my mom probably), but from experience, I can attest to their reality.

Stage 1: You are afraid your are going to die.

Stage 2: You hope you die.

Stage 3: You are afraid you are not going to die.

The three real stages of malaria:

The first stage is characterized by uncontrollable shivering for an hour or two. In the next stage, the patient’s temperature rises quickly. It may reach 106°F (41°C) for a period of up to six hours. In the third stage, the patient begins to sweat profusely, and his or her temperature drops rapidly.

I’m glad that this deadly killer is getting attention these days.

Pandas, Hebrew Punctuation & Dandruffy Scholars

Lynne Truss in Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation (Gotham 2003) writes:truss-eats-shoots-leaves.jpg

if Hebrew or any of the other ancient languages had included punctuation (in the case of Hebrew, a few vowels might have been nice as well), two thousand years of scriptural exegesis need never have occurred, and a lot of clever, dandruffy people could definitely have spent more time in the fresh air.

(Christi liked this quote so much that she called my cell specifically to read it to me because she considers me a clever, dandruffy person who doesn’t spend much time in the fresh air.)

She says this book is “like reading Anne Lamont on grammar.”

April Fool’s Links (and more)

Faith and Theology’s April Fool’s Roundup

I would add this one: A new gospel is discovered!!

Doug Chaplin has these and a few more. Plus the BBC round-up of ten seemingly spoof news stories which are actually true.

April Fools in rural Uganda.

April Fool’s Day is one of those random cultural nuances that Uganda has taken up with enthusiasm.

NON-April Fool’s links:

Reconciliation Blog: The Peril’s of Obama’s narrative

The impact of TV on society: Entertainment and Suburban Culture.