Thoughts in the Dark

Trying to Bring Ideas into the Light

Tag: SBL

Allusion and Intertextuality: Pondering my Thesis

This semester is my semester to prepare for my thesis. I am taking 6 hours of independent study; 3 hours of readings towards the thesis and writing a 30-35 page lit review, and 3 hours of a “research methods” course that will culminate in a 10-15 page prospectus detailing the thesis. I will enroll in 6 hours next semester to actually write the thesis.

My leanings so far have been towards the idea of intertextuality and illusion between the Hebrew Bible and various Ancient Near Eastern sources. This has stemmed out of my previous research (mostly done in the time in between completing my first MA and starting my second MA), including a regional SECSOR paper and a paper given at the annual SBL in Baltimore last year, primarily dealing with the divine warrior motif and its use in the Hebrew Bible.

For my thesis, I hope to begin to develop a “theology of intertextuality,” and specifically focus on how ancient materials are appropriated and put to use (Jeremy Hutton, who I am not familiar with, has written a paper dealing with one specific case, calling it “the rhetorical appropriation and subversion of hostile theologies”).

I hope to use the space on this blog to flesh out some ideas and work out how the work of various authors interact as I read and research this topic.


Is Biblioblogdom Dead?

I have not posted on this blog in almost seven months. There are numerous reasons for this, but one really sticks out for me. The more I wanted to be a “biblioblog,” the more I realized that what I was doing was not similar at all to the biblioblogs out there. I wanted to be recognized for my blog, which is a pretty ridiculous goal once I realized it. So I stopped blogging completely. I focused my energies elsewhere, particularly on finishing this second MA program and providing a living to keep the lights on and my wife and son happy!

Recently, Jim West posted a blog entitled, “The Death of Biblioblogdom.” He essentially argued that biblioblogging began with honorable intentions, but soon grew to such an extent that every graduate student (read: me) jumped on the bandwagon in hopes of interacting with people in the field and making a name for his or her self. I realized that this is EXACTLY what I had been doing. I am no expert. Receiving a BA in Religion and a MA in Biblical Studies does not make me knowledgable; at best it makes me teachable. I used the internet platform to yell at the top of my lungs on topics completely unrelated to my field of study. I might post here and there about something I was doing or writing, on occasion, but for the most part I would whine about Mark Driscoll or some other crazy thing said in the Church that was getting headlines. Why? Because that was what people were searching for, and instead of focusing on actually doing research and writing and improving my skill at these, I wanted attention.

My problem now, however, is that I have completely stopped blogging and I miss it. I enjoyed blogging, and I feel as though I could improve my writing skills through blogging. I do not want to do it just to “be popular,” because that is ridiculous. I want to have an outlet for writing and thoughts, and I am going to use my blog for that. My writing and thoughts are focused around the Bible and theology, so it could technically be considered a “Biblioblog,” but whether others consider this to be that is not my problem.

Is Biblioblogdom dead? I really do not think so. I just think that it needs a new identity. Just like my blog needs a new identity.


And it is seriously crunch time. My paper is the equivalent of a 1600-word outline.

I know my starting point, and I can see where I’m going from the work I’ve done so far, but it is just insanity trying to move from point A to point B. I look over what I have and think, “this is terrible!” But then again, it isn’t even a first draft yet, so of course it is terrible.

I view SBL as a giant pool of ideas; by presenting a paper, I am submitting my idea to the pool. If my idea sucks, it should spit it back in my face. If my idea is good, then hopefully I will receive some affirmation and then go on to turn my idea into a paper to be submitted as an article to journals.

Anybody out there reading this in the same boat as me, trying to finish up a paper that just doesn’t want to end? How are you dealing with it? It doesn’t help that I’m also working on two classes that I haven’t taught before (or at least through the medium that I’m teaching one of them), so I am writing all my material week-by-week for two classes in addition to lecturing and grading (and being a dad of a 2-year-old, looking for full-time employment and constantly sending out my CV, and whatever else I have on my plate, ha!).

I’m guessing that I just need to buck up and get it done!

SBL / AAR App is Available!


Find it on the App Store, then search for my name and add me to your schedule so you can be sure to come hear my paper!

Also, the official hashtag for the meeting (per the app) is #sblaar13

To-Do List

The Fall seems to be an exceptionally busy season for me. I am working on my second MA, teaching two classes (because the third fell through due to low enrollment), and have a number of small writing projects going on. In addition to this, I have a very amazing two-year-old son and an incredible wife who both deserve more than every minute I can give them. I also am looking for a full-time job!

I am posting my to-do list here so that I can hold myself accountable. These are my goals for the Fall:

(1) Write lectures for my world religion class on a week-to-week basis. I’ve never taught this course before, so at 12:25pm today (Monday), I am writing the lecture for the 8am Tuesday (tomorrow) class. Same thing will happen on Wednesday. Also – keep up with grading for this class!

(2) Continue to build my online New Testament Intro class. I have the first 8 weeks built in Edvance360 (we are starting week 3 this Wednesday), but am trying to build a 1-week lesson each week as we move through the semester. Also, I have a ton of grading for this course, so I’m trying to keep up.

(3) Write my paper for SBL! I cannot believe that it is September already, and I have nothing beyond preliminary notes for my SBL paper (I have done a good bit of reading, at least!).

(4) I have no choice but to make an A in my September class for my MA. Class starts this Friday. I’ve already read about 800 pages of material in preparation for the course, “Ten Theologians that Speak from the Grave,” so that during the 5-week intensive I can focus on the theologians’ primary works. This course may also involve a decent amount of writing.

(5) Lexham Bible Dictionary. I have a contract for 5 dictionary articles, and have turned one in already (although they have requested a few minor revisions). I hope to have all 5 completed and turned in by December 31st.

(6) Book Reviews. I currently am reading one book for Religious Studies Review, and also have the first three volumes of Thomas Oden’s John Wesley’s Teachings read and am writing a 2,000 word review of them for Reviews in Religion and Theology. These need to be finished SOON.

(7) Find a JOB. Teaching two courses as an adjunct isn’t paying the bills. My 1-year, grant funded position at the community college last year was nice, but I need something now that it is up. With one MA under my belt, I could teach more as an adjunct (or even be hired full time at a community college), but I don’t see that happening any time soon. My next hope is for something in higher ed, just to make contacts and stay involved in education. I am, however, willing to look outside the field just to pay my way through this MA and make sure food is on the table and the lights stay on. I’m just not getting many call backs yet.

Will I accomplish all this? I believe I will! It is time to get busy …

Paper Accepted to SBL 2013 in Baltimore!

I received some good news Sunday afternoon (although I realize it pales in comparison to the good news of Easter Sunday, it was still a nice email to receive). It went something like this:

Dear Matthew,

Congratulations, your paper, The Role of the Divine Warrior in Hebrew Legal Tradition, was accepted for the 2013 Annual Meeting program unit Hebrew Scriptures and Cognate Literature. The meeting will be held in Baltimore, MD from 11/23/2013 to 11/26/2013.

Please note that, by submitting a paper proposal or accepting a role in any affiliate organization or program unit session at the Annual or International Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, you agree to participate in an open academic discussion guided by a common standard of scholarly discourse that engages your subject through critical inquiry and investigation.

And that is that! I actually had already been rejected from this program unit, but apparently one of the chosen papers backed out (I’m assuming they were accepted in multiple program units), and mine had been the last paper to be cut, so I’m in!

Look for me in Baltimore in November!


I have not posted much recently because I have been busy writing; as I mentioned a few months back, my paper proposal to SECSOR was accepted, and this past weekend I had the opportunity to present my paper.

The presentation seemed to go great; there were four of us presenting seemingly unrelated topics, and questions were saved for the very end. I had 3 or 4 questions directed to me concerning my paper, but there was just enough unexpected overlap between papers that we could all interject with each other’s questions. This led to a Q&A discussion that lasted almost an hour!

Next step: turning this paper into a journal article and submitting it to a journal. Does anyone have any advice for that process?

Going to SBL / AAR this year? There is an App for that!

The SBL and AAR app has been released! Click here to download it!

Mine is downloading right now, so I haven’t had a chance to play with it yet, but it looks like it will have an interactive map as well as an interactive program guide that lets you plan out your schedule. The ability to take notes and download program handouts is also included.

It sounds pretty helpful, so be sure to check it out!

Paper Proposal – Accepted!

I received some great news this week – my paper proposal for SECSOR 2013 (the South East Commission for the Study Of Religion in Greenville, SC this March) was accepted in the Bible and Modern Culture: (3) Interpreting Biblical Stories/Parables of Violence and their Significance for Contemporary American Culture program unit!

I will include my proposal below:

Divine Violence: How do we Promote Peace without Taming the Divine Warrior?

Violence, while a part of our culture, is held out at a distance by most people. The Church attempts to do the same thing, condemning most or all forms of violence. Sections of the Bible that deal with violence are either exemplified as righteous examples of proper violence, or glossed over in an effort to tame the Divine. How then, do Christians deal with violence int heir own religious texts without changing the original meaning of the text to tame God, buts till continuing to promote peace as Christ-followers? The purpose of this paper is to better understand the use of violence attributed to God in order to gain a fuller understanding of how these texts can still apply to religious followers today, without taming the Divine Warrior. The sample text used will be Second Isaiah (Isaiah 40-55).

The paper will be divided into two parts. The first part will utilize the methodology laid out by Dr. H. Wayne Ballard in his The Divine Warrior Motif in the Psalms in order to identify the passages in Second Isaiah that contain the Divine Warrior Motif. By identifying key words and word usages Dr. Ballard was able to plot out the occurrences of the Divine Warrior Motif in the Psalms. In similar fashion, I will attempt to plot out the frequency of these same words and usages throughout Second Isaiah in order to determine the
applicable passages.

The second part will attempt to understand the purpose of these passages in light of the Ancient Near Eastern context and then interpret them for a modern readership. After discussing each passage in order to ascertain the socio-historical context, I will attempt to explain what impact these texts should have on a modern Christians and students of the Hebrew Bible. In light of modern ethical concerns about violence, particularly in religious texts, how can presenting a deity figure as a warlord in battle bring anything positive to the table? This paper will seek to answer that question and hopefully convince the audience that the Divine Warrior brings comfort instead of pain, and hope instead of terror.

So, this means that I have submitted two paper proposals (SBL this November and now SECSOR in March), and have been accepted to both! Does a 100% paper proposal acceptance rate garner any bragging rights? Or should I keep my mouth shut in order to not jinx myself (or possibly even to attempt humility, eh?).

Lazy Summer

My blog entries this summer have been much less frequent than I had hoped. I do not think that it is all bad, however. I am working on a couple of writing projects, as well as continuing to write book reviews.

I am nearing the deadline (the end of next month) for my entires in the Lexham Bible Dictionary, which include “The History of Israel (Monarchic Period),” “Phoenicia, History of,” “Phoenicia, Geography and Demographics of,” and “Phoenicia, Culture and Religion of.” These are in addition to my previous entries, “History of Mesopotamia,” and “The Canaanites.”

I am finishing up reading Biblical Hebrew Grammar Visualized, by Fancis I. Anderson and A. Dean Forbes, in order to review it for JESOT. I am also finishing up and revising a few reviews that are going to be published in Bible Study Magazine this fall and winter.

I am editing and revising my paper which has been accepted for the Academic Teaching and Biblical Studies section at SBL 2012 in Chicago this coming November. The title of my paper is “Overcoming the Challenge of Underprepared Students: Teaching Biblical Studies in a Community College Setting.”

And finally, I am looking for a job! I’ve had two interviews in the past two weeks, and while I have received one rejection letter, I am holding out hope for the other job!

Needless to say, this summer has been pretty busy so far, and I am alright not writing a blog every other day, as I had been in the past, because I just don’t have time.