Monday, 31 August 2009

Book, Coffee, and Airport

One of the things I like about travelling is this: there is always a fair bit of waiting time - waiting time in the queue for check in, waiting time for boarding, and the flying time itself. And it is during these moments that I have some time to do some reading.

So, as my usual practice, I brought along a book for my recent trip to Singapore where I attended the Intentional Disciple Making Conference at Covenant Evangelical Free Church, Woodlands. During the waiting time at both Subang and Changi airports, and during the flights themselves, I managed to finish reading the book edited by Richard Horsley, In the Shadow of Empire: Reclaiming the Bible as a History of Faithful Resistance (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2008).

The main argument of this compendium of 9 essays is that both the Old and New Testaments develop against the context of the empires - be it the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, and finally the Romans. Each of these chapters describes how the biblical authors provide concrete meaning to the countercultural claims of both the Jews and the Christ believers that their God was the true King, the real Emperor.

Contributors include Norman Gottwald, Walter Brueggemann, Jon Berquist, John Dominic Crossan, Richard Horsley, Warren Carter, Brigitte Kahl, Neil Elliot, and Grey Carey.

Perhaps I should be making more trips - then I can do more reading!

Friday, 28 August 2009

Review of Biblical Literature August 19, 2009

The following new reviews have been added to the Review of Biblical Literature on August 19, 2009

Bill T. Arnold
Reviewed by Jan-Wim Wesselius

Margaret Barker
The Hidden Tradition of the Kingdom of God
Reviewed by Benedict Thomas Viviano, O.P.

Adam Green
King Saul: The True History of the First Messiah
Reviewed by Ralph K. Hawkins

Søren Holst
Verbs and War Scroll: Studies in the Hebrew Verbal System and the Qumran War Scrolls
Reviewed by Francis Dalrymple-Hamilton

Hans-Josef Klauck
The Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles: An Introduction
Reviewed by Paul Dilley

Bernard M. Levinson
"The Right Chorale": Studies in Biblical Law and Interpretation
Reviewed by J. Glen Taylor

Darian Lockett
Purity and Worldview in the Epistle of James
Reviewed by John C. Poirier

Daniel Marguerat, ed.
Introduction au Nouveau Testament: Son histoire, son écriture, sa théologie
Reviewed by V. Henry T. Nguyen

Steve Mason
Flavius Josephus: Translation and Commentary: Vol. 1b: Judean War 2
Reviewed by Marcus Sigismund

Francis J. Moloney
Life of Jesus in Icons: From the "Bible of Tbilisi"
Reviewed by V. Henry T. Nguyen

Martti Nissinen and Risto Uro, eds.
Sacred Marriages: The Divine-Human Sexual Metaphor from Sumer to Early Christianity
Reviewed by Lena-Sofia Tiemeyer

Jacobine G. Oudshoorn
The Relationship between Roman and Local Law in the Babatha and Salome Komaise Archives: General Analysis and Three Case Studies on Law of Succession, Guardianship and Marriage
Reviewed by Judith Evans Grubbs

Kuo-Wei Peng
Hate the Evil, Hold Fast to the Good: Structuring Romans 12.1-15.1
Reviewed by Derek R. Brown

Per Rönnegård
Threads and Images: The Use of Scripture in Apophthegmata Patrum
Reviewed by Mark DelCogliano

Eckhard J. Schnabel
Paul the Missionary: Realities, Strategies and Methods
Reviewed by Torrey Seland

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Intentional Disciple Making Conference, Singapore

Together with the pastoral team from my church, I am off to Singapore to attend the Intentional Disciple Making Conference at Covenant Evangelical Free Church, Woodlands, for the next few days. For those days that I will be away, blogging activities will take a break as I do not intent to carry along my notebook.

I will be staying at Trinity Theological College, and hopefully, will be able to catch up with Tony Siew and Sze Zeng.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Christian Origins and NT Background Project by St John's

Sze Zeng highlights the ambitious interactive multimedia resource resource project on Christian theology presently carried out by St. John's College at Nottingham University. Some of these are written for St John's extension studies.

Of particular interest for me is the Christian Origins and New Testament Background project, which is described as exploring "the origins of Christianity within its cultural, intellectual and historical context starting with questions of New Testament background." Some of the video commentary include:

  • Tom Wright on The Gospel and Empire, Gnosticism and the Resurrection
  • Anthony Thiselton on 1 Corinthians
  • Richard Bauckham on Eye witness testimony and the Gospels
  • Larry Hurtado on Jesus -Devotion in Earliest Christianity
  • Prof Loren Stuckenbruck on the Qunrum community and Dead Sea scrolls
  • Stephen Travis talking about New Testament background and context on location
  • Richard Burridge on the four Gospels
  • James Dunn and Graham Stanton on the kingdom of God, Parables and miracles and Christology.
Some of these videos are now available. Like Sze Zeng, I am impressed with them. Check them out and you will not be disappointed:

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Another Proud M Theol Graduate of STM

Last Saturday, one of my postgraduate students, Geok Hock, had his viva voce. I was very pleased to know that both the external and internal examiners passed him without corrections. Geok Hock's thesis is on "A Proposal for the Structure of Luke's Travel Narrative".

Geok Hock will be joining Malaysia Bible Seminari's English Department as Lecturer in New Testament, beginning this November. We wish him all the best as he begins his service at our sister institution. He will be a great asset there.

Friday, 21 August 2009

W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research Fellowships

W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research, Jerusalem 2010-2011 Fellowships

The Albright Institute of Archaeological Research invites fellowship applications at the doctoral, post-doctoral, and senior levels in religious studies, archaeology, anthropology, art history, Bible, epigraphy, history, language, literature, philology or related disciplines from pre-history through the early Islamic period in Near Eastern Studies.

Awards include room and half-board at the newly renovated Albright Institute, located near the Old City of Jerusalem. Living accommodations include a served dinner, self-service breakfast, and a garden area for tea and coffee. The research library contains more than 32,000 volumes, over 450 journal titles, map and artifact collections. Extensive computer facilities available in library; rooms are wired for internet access.

Research period should be continuous and residence at the Albright is required.
Annual Professorship
$15,000 for 4.5 months. Deadline 10/1/09
National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Fellowships Grants ranging 12 to 4 months, $50,400 to $16,800. Deadline 10/1/09
Ernest S. Frerichs Fellow and Program Coordinator
$24,000 for 9 months. Deadline 10/1/09
Samuel H. Kress Fellowship
$22,500-per-year for two-year grant. Apply directly to Deadline 11/30/09
George A. Barton Fellowship $5,000 for 2 months. Deadline 10/1/09
Carol and Eric Meyers Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship
$5,000 for 2 months. Deadline 10/1/09
Educational and Cultural Affairs Fellowships (ECA)
Grants ranging 9 to 4.5 months, $20,000 to $10,000. Deadline 10/1/09
Associate Fellowships
13 administrative fee awards for senior & junior fellows (for one or two semesters). No deadline
Glassman Holland Research Fellowship
$12,000 for 3 months. Deadline 3/15/10
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowships 3 awards of $11,500 each for 3 months. Deadline 3/15/10
W.F. Albright Associate Fellowships
No stipend. Admin. fee required. No deadline
Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC) Multi-Country Research Fellowships 10 fellowships up to $9,000 ea. Apply to Deadline 1/1/10
Getty Research Exchange Fellowship Program for the Mediterranean Basin and Middle East
Stipend $3,000/month plus $1,000 travel expenses. Deadline 2/15/10
ACLS Recent Doctoral Recipients Fellowships
$30,000 for 10 months. For application: Deadline 12/1/09

For complete information, visit the Albright's website at:
Or contact:
Dr. Joan R. Branham Chair,
AIAR Fellowships and AIAR Vice President

Awards subject to availability of funds. AIAR does not discriminate on the basis of race, age, sex, sexual orientation, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, or disability.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Fighting for Time...

I have not been blogging regularly for the past couple of months. It's not that I have nothing to blog - there are many issues swimming in my head at the moment that I wish I am able to put them into writing. It's just that I am too occupied with too many things in the seminary. Sometimes I wish I have 48 hours in a day; sometimes I wish I only need to sleep for 4 hours at night.

For the past couple of weeks, I have been feeling rather depressed every time I walk into my office. When I see the piles of stuff on my desk, check my to-do-list, and be reminded of the many yet to be replied emails, I feel like drowning. Yet - my thesis student is crying for help; my M Theol student is also waiting to see me; and another D Theol thesis is waiting to be examined.

Fighting for time is a constant battle. Yet when we as lecturer are unable to give time to the students as a result of our tight schedule and workload, are we less pastoral? For example, my thesis student would like to see me urgently tomorrow. Yet my schedule for tomorrow looks like this:

9.00-10.30am - Travelling from Kuala Lumpur to the seminary
11.00-1.00pm - Community Chapel service
1.00-1.30pm - Lunch
1.30-4.30pm - Guided study for Readings in Greek for 2 students
4.30-7.00pm - Faculty Meeting
7.00-9.00pm - Faculty farewell dinner for my colleague who will be on sabbatical for a year beginning September

Looks like the only time I can see my thesis student is after 9.30pm, if I am still standing.

Am I less pastoral when there is simply no time to see my student and that he has to wait till 9.30pm to see me? By the time I head back to my apartment, it would most likely be after 10.30pm.....

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Free Book by John Piper for Download

Logos announces the release of Finally Alive, John Piper's latest book, for Logos Bible Software. For a period of one month only (August 14-September 14), this book is available for free.

For full full details on how to get this free copy, please click here and follow the steps listed there.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Launch of STM Endowment and Trust Fund

STM has recently launched the Endowment and Trust Fund in conjunction with her 30th Anniversary celebration.

For further information of the Endowment and Trust Fund, please click here for the pdf file.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Position at Pacific Lutheran University: Assistant Prof of NT

I have just been alerted of the following available position:

The Religion Department at Pacific Lutheran University announces a tenure-track assistant professorship in New Testament, beginning September 2010.

A Ph.D. is required for this position.

The Department seeks a candidate with a primary concentration in biblical hermeneutics, with special emphasis on biblical interpretation in a multi-faith context. Additional competencies expected in 1) Hebrew Bible or Greco-Roman religions and 2) critical methods.

Candidates must exhibit a demonstrated commitment to excellence in teaching undergraduates and possess a coherent research agenda. The successful applicant will be expected to teach New Testament-related courses in both Christian Traditions and Global Religious Traditions lines of the Religion curriculum. Familiarity with Lutheran biblical hermeneutics and the Lutheran tradition of higher education is highly desired.

Teaching load: six courses per year.

PLU offers a challenging curriculum integrating the liberal arts and professional programs. A globally-focused university committed to building a diverse educational community, PLU enjoys a healthy and progressive relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

Send hard-copy Letter of interest, CV, graduate transcripts, and three letters of recommendation by October 15, 2009, to:

Dr. Antonios Finitsis,
New Testament Search,
Religion Department,
Pacific Lutheran University,
Tacoma, WA 98447.

No electronic submissions. Pre-arranged interviews only at SBL annual meeting.

For online description, go to PLU Human Resources website.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Review of Biblical Literature, 6 August 2009

The following new reviews have been added to the Review of Biblical Literature:

Mieke Bal
Loving Yusuf: Conceptual Travels from Present to Past
Reviewed by Rebecca Raphael

Roland Boer
Last Stop Before Antarctica: The Bible and Postcolonialism in Australia
Reviewed by Steed Vernyl Davidson

Cilliers Breytenbach and Jörg Frey, eds.
Aufgabe und Durchführung einer Theologie des Neuen Testaments
Reviewed by Willard M. Swartley

Timothy Clack and Marcus Brittain, eds.
Archaeology and the Media
Reviewed by Yuval Gadot

Gudrun Holtz
Damit Gott sei alles in allem: Studien zum paulinischen und frühjüdischen Universalismus
Reviewed by Lars Kierspel

Joseph F. Kelly
The Birth of Jesus according to the Gospels
Reviewed by J. Samuel Subramanian

Andreas J. Kostenberger and Scott R. Swain, eds
Father, Son and Spirit: The Trinity and John's Gospel
Reviewed by Martijn Steegen

Tom Thatcher, ed.
Jesus, the Voice, and the Text: Beyond The Oral and the Written Gospel
Reviewed by Stephan Witetschek

C. Adrian Thomas
A Case For Mixed-Audience with Reference to the Warning Passages in the Book of Hebrews
Reviewed by Gert J. Steyn

Felipe Blanco Wißmann
"Er tat das Rechte": Beurteilungskriterien und Deuteronomismus in 1Kön 12-2Kön 25
Reviewed by Ernst Axel Knauf

Leslie S. Wilson
The Book of Job: Judaism in the Second Century BCE: An Intertextual Reading
Reviewed by F. Rachel Magdalene

Friday, 7 August 2009

Academic Integrity vs Pastoral Care

Where does one draw the line between upholding academic integrity and exercising pastoral care? I have been pondering over this question for some time now. For me, the emotional agony always surfaces when the complex issue of exercising academic integrity and providing pastoral care collide.

Sometimes, I wish these two issues are mutually exclusive. This makes decision making much easier. If I am a pure academician, it is easy for me pass or fail a student's paper or thesis simply based on objective academic judgement. But it has always been said that a seminary is not purely an academic institution. It is also a place for the training of pastors and church workers, and as such, the duty of pastoral care is naturally demanded and expected from the students. As such, the role of a lecturer in a seminary is not simply the impartation of knowledge resulting in passing or failing a student. A seminary lecturer is expected to coach the students and be a role model or example to the students to be like Christ.

What if students turn in a piece of work that does not meet the basic academic requirement? If I fail them, I would be said to judge them purely based on their academic capabilities and ignore their divine calling to be a minister of the gospel. If I pass them, I would be said to compromise my academic integrity.

I know the real issues are always much complex. But where do one actually draw the line?

Thursday, 6 August 2009

STM 30th Anniversary Celebration

Today marks the seminary's 30th Anniversary celebration. The celebration begins with tea reception at 4pm, followed by a thanksgiving service at 4.30pm. A dinner celebration will be held at 7pm. For further details of the celebration, please visit the seminary's website.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

There Goes My Research Too....

Tony Siew, my good friend at Trinity Theological College, Singapore, recently lamented, "There goes my research." This is one lament that I can fully identified with, and it is my present cry too. As I look at my work load this year, I think I am not only overstretched, overloaded, but also overworked.

This is just a snapshot of my workload this year in terms of the classes/modules that I have taught or currently teaching (and this excludes all other administrative duties):

1) Exegesis of Romans - 3 credit hours
2) Exegetical Method (co-teach) for Semester 1 - 3 credit hours
3) Exegetical Method (co-teach) for Semester 2 - 3 credit hours
4) TEE Course in PJ/KL Centre: Biblical Interpretation - 3 credit hours
5) Doctor of Ministry module: Advanced Hermeneutics and Homiletics - 4 credit hours
6) Guided study on Readings in Greek Using Bible Works for 2 M Div Students
7) Supervision of 3 M Div theses for both semesters
8) Supervision of 2 M Theol theses (full time) for both semesters
9) Supervision of 1 full time M Theol candidate
10) Supervision of 1 module of a D Theol candidate
11) Examination of 1 D Theol thesis currently sitting on my desk

How could one possibly find time to do research and writing in the midst of all these extraordinary teaching load? My book on Paul's Use of Images that I have started working on last year has not made any progress since I returned from my 4-week research leave in Trinity Theological College last December 08. This is very appalling indeed for an academician.

I have asked for a lighter teaching load next year. I am not sure whether this request will be granted. I really do hope to go back to do some research and writing before I perish!

SBL International Meeting in Rome: A Great Reunion

I did not blog much about my experience in presenting my paper at SBL International Meeting, hosted by the Pontifical Biblical Institute and held at the Pontificia Universitas Gregoriana, Rome. This is partly due to the fact that from the very moment I touched down at KL, I was literally swamped with work, having to work through all the 5 theses submitted by my students.

From Left: myself, William Campbell, Kathy Ehrensperger,
Anthony Cogliolo and Edward Pillar

One the moments that I treasured in Rome is the opportunity to meet up with friends from my alma mater, in particular my doctoral supervisor Dr William Campbell and his lovely wife, Dr Kathy Ehrensperger. University of Wales Lampeter had a very significant presence at SBL International Meeting this year, with a total of 8 papers being presented. It was great catching up with these wonderful people who are so supportive of my research work. Bill and Kathy have always gone the extra mile in providing all the necessary assistance that I need in my professional development.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Monday, 3 August 2009

Coffee...Ice Cream...and Book - Even Better

In my previous post, I blogged about coffee and book. I think my experience in my recent SBL International Meeting trip to Rome is even better: Coffee, ice cream and book!

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Coffee and Book...This is Life!

I must say this was what I really enjoyed last week while I was in Singapore: Having a nice cup of coffee and reading a book at the same time.

The aroma from the coffee stimulates the brain...and the book energises the thought process....However, I went away disappointed by Seyoon Kim's work as reviewed by Warren Carter here.

But the coffee at The Coffee Connoisseur was great!

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Eagles Leadership Conference

I was at the Eagles' Leadership Conference in Singapore last week. On one of the days, I was staring at this board, wondering which workshop I should attend. It was a little bit difficult to make a decision where there were so many great topics to choose from. In the end, I opted for the seminar on "Coaching Underperformers, Changing Lives."

Someone asked me whether I have any specific situation in mind in choosing this particular seminar. I am not sure whether my experience is any indication. Based on my observation and involvement in a number of non-profit Christian organisations, one of the inherent problems is having an above-average number of underperforming staff. I am not sure whether I am fair in my observation here, and I stand corrected.

Having said that, I enjoyed the seminar - but to be fair to the engaging speaker, she only had 2 hours to cover the topic, and this certainly limited her in what she could possibly do in such a short period of time.