On Choosing a Journal to Publish With

For Biblical Studies, even for New Testament in particular, there are loads of ‘good’ journals with which to publish.  How does one choose?  Partly one must gauge the ‘interests’ of the journal and even take into account who is on the editorial board (to a certain degree).  One must give some thought to format and styling and also the audience and the country from which the journal originates (which affects distribution, attention, etc..).  As Mike Bird as recommended to me, keep in mind which ones are searchable on ATLA (always helpful!) and also which are mostly likely to have online files for paying institutions.

One factor, not often considered, involves the services offered by the journal and/or publishing host.  For instance, I wish to make a plug for SAGE journals.  I have had the privilege of working with JSNT and Currents in Biblical Research (both SAGE).  They not only offer online downloads for fee-paying institutions, but other helpful services.  For instance, they have the assessors and the editor do proofreading of the article, which is helpful.  But they also have a professional proofing service go through your article as well (after it has been accepted, of course).  This proofing service is meticulous – they don’t miss anything (unless it is Greek accents and very technical things)!  They are like the IRS of proofreading!  Anyway, what a wonderful service and it will make you a better scholar and save you some embarrassment.    Thus, from the standpoint of editorial services, I highly recommend publishing with SAGE.

Article Announcement (Gospel of John)

In December 2008, I had an article come out on the Gospel of John:

‘A Man of No Reputation: Jesus and Ascribed Honor in the Gospel of John’, Ashland Theological Journal 40 (2008): 43-59.

Though I am no Johannine expert, I had read Jerome Neyrey’s work on honor and shame in Matthew and Luke. I thought to myself, when it comes to ascribed honor, it seems like a lot of the features in Matt and Luke are absent from John. For those that don’t know, there are generally two kinds of honor in the ancient world – achieved and ascribed. Achieved is when one gains honor for himself or herself by good teaching, earning wealth, virtuous deeds, etc… Ascribed honor happens passively, by birth place, inherited wealth, lineage, physical appearance (height, ‘natural beauty’), and so forth.

It occurred to me – John’s Gospel seems to ignore or eliminate many if not all the details of Jesus’ ascribed honor from a worldly standpoint. Could this have at least something to do with the absence of the birth narrative? I mean for the article to be suggestive- again, I am no expert. I think, though, when we compare John to Matthew and Luke, there seems to be (of course) intentionality in his portrayal of Jesus that is quite a bit different.

So what? Well, I think this means something about how we approach things like pedigree, wealth, where someone is from, etc… It has real value in terms of our own tendencies to put the emphasis on ascribed versus achieved honor (think about how we admire very well-born, but very ignoble celebrities!). In the end, I also make a connection to the Isaianic prediction that the Suffering Servant would be a ‘man of no reputation’ – one without ascribed honor, if you will.

In its own context, ‘John’ may have done this as a way of communicating to his readers that, whatever their own background, they can emulate their Messiah and glorify him. If Burridge is right that a bios was, in part, an encouragement to imitate the hero, this suppression of Jesus’ ascribed honor would make it all the easier to be (in achieved honor) like the one who was honorable in deed. Again, though, reflecting on the rhetorical purpose of this move by John is more difficult than simply cataloging and describing how he underplays Jesus’ ascribed honor.
So, order your copy of Ashland Theological Journal today! 🙂

My Forthcoming Article on 1 Peter and Cultic Metaphors (PRS)

I am pleased to announce the soon-coming appearance of an article of mine:

‘A Spiritual House of Royal Priests, Chosen and Honored: The Presence and Function of Cultic Imagery in 1 Peter’, Perspectives in Religious Studies 36.1 (2009): 61-76.

In this article, I attempt to utilize insights from social and cognitive-literary theories to demonstrate not simply how cultic metaphors (temple, priest, sacrifice) are meant to say something (theologically), but also do something (especially with respect to value systems, honor and shame, responses to suffering).  If Richard Hays has spent a lifetime arguing that ‘echoes of Scripture’ aid in converting the imagination of those who engage in the NT, I wish to supplement and support this by saying that the NT writers utilize many clusters of metaphors (kinship, cult, politics) towards the same purpose.

Univ of Durham hires new NT scholar

I am pleased to announce that Univ. of Durham has confirmed their appointment for the new scholar in New Testament and Second Temple Judaism (filling, more or less, the teaching and research needs of Loren Stuckenbruck who is going to Princeton).  We welcome here at Durham Dr. Lutz Doering, currenty Lecturer in New Testament Studies at King’s College London.  His profile can be found here.  Durham, though very sad to lose a first-class scholar such as Prof. Stuckenbruck, is excited to have Dr. Doering’s particular mixture of experiences, education, and areas of expertise.

Learning about mirror-reading from Tom Wright (unintentionally)

I am happily speeding my way through reading Tom Wright’s new Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision (SPCK, 2009).  It is a fascinating read (which is why I am able to go so fast!) and I will be posting more detailed thoughts on the book later.  Wright is a master communicator and anyone (regardless of theological persuasion) could learn from his very engaging and easy-on-the-ears writing style.

But, I had a thought as I progressed through the book.  This is an odd sort of text becuase it is essentially a response (to John Piper) that is not written directly to Piper, but to the audience that Wright wishes to gain a hearing from.  He is clearing the air, defending his name, clarifying his own theology, and taking a small chance to counter the kind of theology that people like Piper are promoting.  Reading Wright’s book reminded me of the many challenges of reading Paul’s letters especially as you have to try to figure out why Paul is saying the things he is and when he directly responding to his opponents (his John Pipers) and when he just theologizing and telling his audience what he thinks about X, Y, and Z.

Sometimes Wright is indignant.  So Paul.  Sometimes Wright gives you little hints at what his ‘debator’ or ‘Agitator’ has said.  So Paul.  Sometimes Wright slips into ‘theology’ mode and it is as if the Agitator never existed.  So Paul.  Sometimes Wright is using the one Agitator as an example of all his opponents who do the same kind of invective rhetoric.  So Paul.  All the while Wright is too busy, too tired, too annoyed to be wholly consumed with convincing the Agitator of anything, let along everything.  Wright simply wants his major audience (Christian believers) to hear the truth of his Gospel straight from the horse’s mouth.  So Paul.  Wright often acknowledges that he is on the same ‘team’, so to speak, as his Agitator and he wishes that he were not so often the target of friendly fire.  So Paul.  Wright’s Agitator says, ‘I only care about being a good pastor to God’s people and helping them to grow in faith’.  Wright says, ‘Don’t forget, I am also a ‘pastor’ of God’s people’.  This sounds an awful lot like Paul!

If for nothing else, and indeed there is much wisdom in these pages, reading Wright’s book has helped me to understand better the challenges of mirror-reading.  Chapter  by chapter I have to guess at what Piper has said about Wright.  Sometimes it is clearly spelled out by Wright.  Other times you really have to strain to figure it out.  Of course the difference here is that I could go out and buy Piper’s book… But I’m not going to.

The British-American New Testament Academic Divide

I am currently reviewing the second edition of W. Meeks’ well-known The Writings of St. Paul (Norton & co.).  It is an amazing anthology of texts by Paul, texts closely related (apocryphal), and texts about Paul (patristic, early modern, modern).  the updated version includes modern scholarly reflections on Paul and approaches to studying his letters.  A sampling of the newly-added scholars includes: Boyarin, Segal, Fredriksen, Paul Meyer, Stowers, Bassler, Malherbe, M.M. Mitchell, Dale Martin, etc…  As Meeks was trying to offer a ‘sampler of modern apporaches to Paul and His Letters’ – where are the Brits?  I was suprised to not see folks such as N.T. Wright, James Dunn, CK Barrett, John Barclay, Francis Watson, Morna Hooker, etc…  To me, this is symptomatic of the unfortunate British-American divide in NT scholarship.

What has helped to bridge this gap, or at least begin some shuttling, is the whole ‘theological interpretation’ enterprise and the Center of Theological Inquiry which does not appear to be anti-British.  As a Durham student, I am disappointed that Prof. Meeks did not see it fit to include any of the Durham scholars who have made a huge impact on NT scholarship – not least in Pauline studies!

I am pleased to announce…

…the birth of our baby boy – Aidan Gupta (his full name is Aidan Taylor Aulick Gupta) on March 16.  And, therefore, you may not hear from me for a while.  Or….I may be posting more frequently as I am up in the middle of the night rocking this kid back to sleep with my computer on my lap.

FYI –  we chose Aidan both because we thought it was a nice-sounding name and in honor of Aidan of Lindisfarne; thus, he will ever remind us of our wonderful years here in the northeast of England.  For more on the Irish monk whom Bishop Lightfoot named ‘the Apostle of the English’ see (of course) the wikipedia entry HERE.