Monthly Archives: June 2009

Chronicle of Higher Education and Budgetary Crises

There is a fascinating article in today’s Chronicle regarding various universities’ decisions to cut faculty in order to stay on budget. The reality of university budgets is that they are predominately spent on salaries, so when cuts need to be made they naturally have to dip into those positions.

Like most universities, ECU is facing a financial crisis as well. A few months ago I attended a meeting in downtown Greenville held by professors in various humanities departments. Four professors gave papers on why the humanities are vital in the university. Dr. Peter Green gave an opening address which was really an apologia for the humanities (and, unfortunately, one of the strongest arguments put forth all night). When I showed up to the meeting I figured it would be a nice time to hang out with some professors and chat a bit, but I quickly realized this was more than chatting – these people weren’t simply fighting for some esoteric idea, they were fighting for their jobs. The dean of the college was in attendance and it was basically him who needed to be convinced of the humanities’ importance. Dean White is, by training, a Botanist – so he’s not exactly the “choir” to whom humanities professors want to preach.

I am involved in two programs at ECU (Classics and Religion), neither of which graduate large amounts of people. An example: my girlfriend recently graduated with her B.S. in Biology – her graduation ceremony was held in the auditorium and they gave out somewhere along the lines of 150 undergraduate degrees. When I went to the Classics graduation (which is combined with the Foreign Languages and Literatures) to receive an award,  it was held in a classroom. Every language major coupled with the Classics majors added up to be a whopping 14 people. I believe 1 of those 14 was a Classical Civilizations major. This is a scary time for professors at universities where “vertical cuts” are considered an option.

The article also mentions a university that is cutting its Philosophy program in its entirety. This is unimaginable to me. How can a university exist without a Philosophy program? Socrates is undoubtedly rolling over in his grave.

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Friday is for funny words

This has been a rather busy week, so I don’t have a funny word, but a funny phrase:

Postquam Crassus carbo factus, Carbo crassus factus est. – Terence

After Crassus became ashes, Carbo became fat/rich.

Terence is describing a situation in which Crassus, a rich man, dies and becomes ashes (carbo), while his heir, Carbo, becomes fat/rich (Crassus). Isn’t Latin fun?

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Some pictures with important historical figures

John Anderson wrote a post where he showed some pictures of him and some of the scholars at Duke. I figured I’d respond with pictures of me and some pretty famous people.

Here is me and Socrates, high-fiving one another (of course). He’s telling me that I’m the coolest – something he came to by using the Joshatic Method (he stole it from me but we’re still on good terms).

 

JoshSocrates

A nice picture of myself and Goliath.

JoshGoliath

 

 This one is very rare: a picture of myself and the elusive “Q” document. (chuckle chuckle chuckle)

JoshBlank

And, lastly, me and the big man Himself – Jesus (who is telling me what an awesome name I have).

 

JoshJesus

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Christopher Hall’s “Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers”

HallI’m reading through Christopher Hall’s Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers and in his introduction he very accurately describes most people’s feeling when it comes to reading the Fathers. He writes:

Why should we take the time to read them? Were they not all wild allegorizers? Did they really understand the Gospel?..Didn’t they believe in salvation by works? Isn’t their understanding more Greek or Roman than Christian?

These are interesting and honest questions – but they should be actual questions and not reasons to dismiss the Fathers outright without giving them a fair shake. The second question is of particular interest to me and something on which I will blog more extensively. In my class on Hermeneutics at Southeastern, Dr. Akin discussed the Church Fathers in rather broad terms and “allegorizers” was one of them. It was used with a negative connotation, in comparison to the “sober-minded” exegesis of…well, I guess himself. I think this question assumes two things: 1) All the Fathers were “wild allegorizers” and 2) Allegory is wrong. Neither is true. In fact, Andrew Louth has a chapter in Discerning the Mystery: An Essay on the Nature of Theology entitled Return to Allegory in which he argues for the validity (and necessity) of allegorical interpretation. It’s really a very good read and later I’ll blog on it more specifically.

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Five Important Books

I’ve been tagged by Nick Norelli on this five important books meme. I suppose my five are as follows:

1. N.T. Wright’s The New Testament and the People of God. This was one of the first books I read when I began studying the New Testament and it was invaluable.

2. Brant Pitre’s Jesus, the Tribulation, and the End of Exile. Though this is a very recent read (just this year), it has provided clarity to issues that were previously unclear to me. Pitre’s book has all that is good about Wright’s thesis in the above book, but corrects the things that Wright didn’t have quite right.

3. Bart Ehrman’s The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture. Though I disagree with a lot of Ehrman’s popular books, I really enjoyed this book and it made me really think about the history of the transmission of the NT. This book is probably what sparked my interest in textual criticism.

4. Mark Goodacre’s The Case Against Q. I was very fortunate to stumble across this book early in my studies. As I was just being introduced to the Synoptic Problem, I went hunting for books in our library. Dr. Goodacre’s book was there with its provocative title, so I read it. It was a vaccination against the wild theories that are espoused concerning Q.

5. Mike Aquilina’s The Fathers of the Church. Aquilina’s book was one of the books that introduced me to my new love: Patristics. His book is short enough to not seem daunting (vs. Drobner’s Introduction which is fairly big), but still provides great information about and readings from various fathers.

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A Meme: Funniest things in ancient literature

The Greek reading group I’m in is translating through Book IX of the Odyssey. Today we came across one of my favorite parts – where Odysseus and his crew jam the red-hot μοχλος (spike) into the Cyclops’ eye. The dialogue that takes place afterward is one of the funniest things in ancient literature, in my opinion. It is as follows:

ἱστάμενοι δ’ εἴροντο περὶ σπέος ὅττι ἑ κήδοι.
“Τίπτε τόσον, Πολύφημ’, ἀρημένος ὧδ’ ἐβόησας νύκτα δι’ ἀμβροσίην, καὶ ἀΰπνους ἄμμε τίθησθα;
ἦ μή τίς σευ μῆλα Βροτῶν ἀέκοντος ἐλαύνει;
ἦ μή τίς σ’ αὐτὸν κτείνει δόλῳ ἠὲ Βίηφιν;”
Τοὺς δ’ αὖτ’ ἐξ ἄντρου προσέφη κρατερὸς Πολύφημος.
“ὦ φίλοι, Οὖτις με κτείνει δόλῳ οὐδὲ Βίηφιν.”

Standing around the cave they asked him what was troubling him.
“What has come upon you, Polyphemus, that you yell in the divine night and keep us from sleeping?
Is some mortal driving off your flocks against your will?
Is a man killing you by trick or violence?”
Then out of the cave spoke strong Polyphemus,
“Oh Friends, Nobody is murdering me by trickery, not with violence.”

I really enjoy this section of Homer as there is a lot of wordplay, but this in particular is really funny to me. When learning a language, it’s nice to be able to read through something that you genuinely enjoy reading. I wonder about what other bloggers find funny in ancient literature, so I’m tagging them to see what they come up with. My tags go to Mike Aubrey, Stephen Carlson, and my fellow Classicists, Brandon Wason and Esteban Vázquez.

Also, back in line 389 – why in the world is ὀφρύας (eyebrows) in the plural? Did Cyclopses have two eyebrows?

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Why do inflected languages make so much sense?

You read that right – why do they make so much sense? I love it. I saw a sentence today in my Latin textbook in which I recognized only one or two words (a preposition and a clause marker) but, because of the way Latin grammar works, I could diagram the sentence without knowing what a single word meant. I really do enjoy it.  Granted, I imagine this excitement is born out of naïveté, but I’ll celebrate the beauty of the language while I can.

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