Another Q & A with myself.

Given the success of the previous Q & A with myself, as well as the fact that I simply cannot be defined by a mere list of twenty quirky facts (well, that and I have some new material I wanted to share!), a second installment seems in order.  So, I present your (attempt at) levity for the day.  Again, I look forward to and welcome your comments.

20 MORE Little Known Facts About Me . . .
1) I am thoroughly convinced that anything in the world . . . anything . . . can be made funny by including a monkey.

2) Sometimes, I wish I were Jewish.  I have a deep, deep respect for the beauty, antiquity, and power of that faith tradition.  I am also very appreciative of the Jewish roots of Christianity, and think scholars should humbly remain mindful of this historical fact.

3) I wish more theologians read the biblical text.  I also, at times, wish more biblical scholars read theologians.  This is an unfortunate divide.

4) I pride myself on my sense of humor and quick wit.  Truly, I would say I am quite funny (and yes, I realize claiming such a thing here means I’m not funny at all).

5) My wife and I used to fight over who got to change (read that again, who GOT TO CHANGE) my newborn son’s diapers.  Now that he’s almost two and eating real food, this pattern has changed dramatically.

6) The one course in high school that ruined my 4.0 GPA (and took away the possibility of me being valedictorian) was . . . gym.  Seriously, I get a ‘B’ because I can’t run a mile in under 14 minutes?!

7) I did not ask my wife out on our first date . . . I used to be a customer service manager at my hometown grocery store, and I had one of my cashiers do it.  Yes, ladies—smooth operator here.  No wonder she married me!

8 ) I refuse to pronounce the Divine Name (YHWH).  When I need to write it, I never include the vowels; it is always YHWH.  If I need to say ‘it’ aloud, be it in translation, paper presentation, or casual conversation, I will say “Adonai.”  I also think it is terribly presumptuous for anyone–Christians included–to pronounce it.

9) I admit to being a horrible audience member at paper presentations (such as SBL).  My mind wanders easily, and then I end up being embarrassed to ask my question given it may have been discussed at a point where my mind was elsewhere.

10) I don’t think there is anything wrong with saying another man is good looking.

11) I am terribly unhandy.  Anything we own (entertainment center, coffee tables, computer desk, storage cabinets, bookcases, etc.) have all been assembled by my wife.  My job consists solely in asking “now the philips screwdriver is the line or the little star?”

12) I don’t drink alcohol.  Not for any religious reason, I just never have.  Not in HS, not in undergrad, and still not now.  I simply have no interest in it.

13) You will never see me writing in my Hebrew Bible (BHS, or my Tanak from Israel).  I will, however, mark up an English Bible (read: translation) with no problems.

14) Earlier I mentioned my parents own a pet store.  Among the main attractions they have had over the last 30 years have been a pot-bellied pig named Arnold, a giant iguana named Iggy, a capuchin monkey named Josh, and currently a ruby mccaw named Boji.

15) I think South Park is one of the most brilliant shows on TV for its social commentary.  I don’t keep up with the show from week to week, but I do watch various older episodes on my on-demand service every so often.

16) When professional wrestling (WWE) comes to town, I hang out behind the arena before the show for about 4-5 hours in the hopes of meeting the wrestlers when they arrive.  It has thus far been a success; I have met countless wrestlers, and gotten numerous pictures and autographs.

17) I can’t stand socks.  I hate wearing them, and touching dirty ones grosses me out something fierce.

18) At least two of my Baylor colleagues have noted (and one explicitly told me he ripped off) what is apparently my unique fashion sense.  When courses are in session and I am on campus, I simply wear jeans, either a polo or a button-up shirt (untucked), and a suit jacket.  I call it the Gregory House look (from the Fox tv show “House, M.D.”).

19) I have three distinct yet interrelated skin colors/tones in the summer, and every summer follows this same pattern: white, red, freckled.  It is impossible for me to get a tan.

20) My favorite part of the day is when my son gives me a kiss goodnight after saying his evening prayers.

I think that is a fine list!  Please do let me know your thoughts, as well as any questions you may have for me.  Let this be the opportunity for you to “better know” me.  What do you want to know?  Topics, categories, specific questions?  Should this “series” continue?  If so, what should I do next?

Shalom!

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34 thoughts on “Another Q & A with myself.

  1. jimgetz says:

    I too found myself off the honor roll because of my lack of athletic prowess. Generally speaking, I took the “I’m wearing my gym uniform give me a C” mentality toward the whole thing. Oh, and in PA (where I grew up), gym is required every year, K-12.

  2. John Anderson says:

    I never got off the honor roll because of gym, but I lost my 4.0 and valedictorian slot because of it. Oh well, I think things have turned out well for me so far.

    I really didn’t see the value in whether I can hit a volleyball over a net and into a target worth “x” number of points . . . seriously, that was one of our tests. If we didn’t get a certain number of points (i.e., targets hit), we got a lower grade. Ridiculous.

    Incidentally, my fastest mile run ever was 12 minutes. Cmon, that’s improvement!

  3. Jill says:

    John,
    Thanks again for your interesting list. Regarding n. 8, it is not part of my own tradition to not pronounce YHWH (I won’t include vowels here of respect for your blog). Thus, any reason that I would have not pronouncing it is out of respect for Jews who practice this tradition. Maybe there is another reason that I’m overlooking for a non-Jew to follow this tradition (assuming that like myself they were not raised with this tradition as part of their own practice), but I can’t think of any besides sensitivity to people of other faiths (something I take seriously).
    Because I take this matter seriously, however, it raises a difficulty for me because many Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that we MUST pronounce the divine name based in part on Ps 83:18 (KJV). So if someone is neither Jewish nor a Jehovah’s Witness, but wants to be sensitive to other religious traditions, which tradition do we privilege and why? Why chose to respect one tradition over another? Is it a matter of more familiarity with one tradition over another including their respective exegetical practices and traditions? Is it that there are more Jews involved in academic biblical scholarship than Jehovah’s Witnesses? Is it that many Christians (even self identified liberals like myself) unfortunately dismiss Jehovah’s Witnesses as cult members rather than practicing a legitimate form of religious expression even though such Christians’ theological differences are just as distinct, if not more so, with Jews as with Jehovah’s Witnesses? For me, these questions are serious and not just rhetorical.
    With the possible danger of imposing my own particular Protestant tradition’s reading practices to evaluate the merits of another tradition, one could question the biblical exegetical basis that supports the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ tradition about use the divine name, but one could certainly do the same for the tradition of not using it. Thus, it does not seem like an exegetical matter but simply a matter of which tradition folks who don’t practice either want to respect. I can’t say that no one should ever use the divine name because that would be very disrespectful to Jehovah’s witnesses, so do I leave it as a matter of individual choice? Do I suggest that one follows whatever his or her particular tradition, if any, practices (if so, my mainline Protestant upbringing would mean that I use it)? Do I base the choice on my particular audience at a given time? I’ve heard advice that I shouldn’t use it if presenting at SBL out of sensitivity to certain Jews in the audience? Yet, this assumes that there are no Jehovah’s Witnesses in the audience. This may be a safe assumption, but it is based on an assumption nonetheless. At any rate, I would love to hear how other folks handle these issues. Thanks once again for your thought provoking post.

    Jill

  4. John Anderson says:

    Jill:

    You raise very interesting questions. I would be curious to know about your background (if you are willing to share, of course). Are you currently doing gradute work in religion? If so, where, and in what?

    As to your questions, I do agree that there tends to be a general denigration of Jehovah’s Witnesses. For me, though, the main issue on pronouncing the divine name is answered in the very name of the group: Jehovah’s Witnesses. Jehovah is, to put it most bluntly, a made up name. The name occurs no where in the Bible. It is not the pointing for the Tetragrammaton. It has simply taken the letters from the Tetragrammaton and plugged in the vowels from “Adonai.” The word is an invention of the KJV, and should not be confused with the divine name as it is usually vocalized (although we likely don’t know how it was vocalized).

    A few years ago I was reading Rainer Albertz’ volume on Israelite religion and in a footnote he pointed out that the Jews pronounced the divine name up until a certain period in history (I don’t recall exactly when—post exile, maybe?). This was striking to me. But still, I refrain from saying the name. Here is a bit of why.

    1) I think it is presumptuous. Jews do not pronounce the Name. For Christians to do so can be tantamount to triumphalism (indeed, it has been used as such, attempting to evidence a more intimate relationship with God). I cannot and do not accept this.

    2) Israel is still a vibrant and living community of faith. To be sure, there are countless secular Jews, but this does not render the religious component of Israel non-existent. Out of respect for what I see as God’s continued fidelity to this community (see the final footnote in my article posted below), I don’t pronounce the Name.

    3) I’m not a big fan of Paul (let me clarify: I think Pauline studies have made me not a big fan of Paul). Regardless, Rom 9-11 is a remarkable treatise. I understand his point there as indicating that Christianity (Jewish-Christians) are but one branch, and we can easily be plucked off. Israel is the tree, solid, sturdy, and with deep roots. While the tree can surely be uprooted, if that were to occur, the branches would similarly be uprooted. At bottom, Christianity needs to have an appreciation for its Jewish heritage, its Jewish roots. And given my understanding of the origins of Christianity and (Rabbinic) Judaism—on this see Boccacini, Segal, and Boyarin–this point is all the more potent.

    Good questions. I do hope, though, that there is at least a bit of levity in the post!

  5. John Anderson says:

    Richard:

    I’m curious what prompted NT Wright out of what I posted here? Regardless, you’ve found my achilles heel at last. I have never read anything by NT Wright. I did see his interview on the Colbert Report, though, does that count?

  6. Jill says:

    Thanks John for your thoughtful response. I’ll start with some quick comments about our discussion and then say a little about my background since you asked (in the spirit of levity of course!).
    I see you’re point about Jehovah. I suppose, but I may be wrong, that their concern is not the correct vocalization, but that Ps 83:18 (v. 19 in the MT!) requires a witness to the name. Another text that they point to is John 17:6 (the New World Translation is popular among Jehovah’s Witnesses). I think, but I’m not sure, that another one is John 18:6, Jesus’ self identification as “ego eimi” may allude to the “ego eimi” of Exod 3:14 (LXX). The argument being that Jesus spoke the name and therefore we must follow his example (possibly cross referring the Lord’s prayer). Overall, I believe the idea is that the name of God should be used. I assume that this implies that the name should be used in whatever language and text one is using (Jehovah if reading the KJV, the vocalized divine name if reading the MT). I don’t find this exegetical argument compelling, but that is a (semi)-scholarly evaluation and what we are discussing is respecting religious tradition(s). After all, as you know, the MT vocalization may be just as “made up” as the word Jehovah, only earlier. All we can say is that the Hebrew letters for YHWH probably appeared in the “original” so how we decide to vocalize them, if at all, depends of which tradition we take as authoritative for our particular community (e.g. KJV, NLT, MT, CMHE; the Frank Cross reference is a sad attempt at levity).

    Nonetheless, I hear your main point as one about Jewish Christian relations. I also think its important to contextual Christian origins with ancient Judaism. I’m sorry to hear that some Christians have used this issue to promote triumphalism, although vocalizing the name doesn’t necessarily need to result in triumphalism. It could be used in the context of scholarly (supposedly non religious) discourse as I’ve seen done by both practicing religious Christians and Jews at SBL. After all, not all practicing, non-secular, Jews maintain this tradition in all contexts, and I’m not just thinking of reconstructionist and reformed Jews. I think you are correct to note that we are talking specifically about (some members, but not all, of) rabbinic Judaism. This does not represent all the forms Judaism practiced today (take for example, some contemporary African Jewish communities). Like Christianity, current Jewish religious practice is extremely diverse and they do all maintain a monolithic tradition about the name.
    Anyway, I should get around to addressing your question about my background. I was thinking of another attempt at levity by quoting from the Princess Bride and replying that I’m no one of consequence as the masked man did (gender bending aside). I am not enrolled in a graduate program and probably will not do so in the future, although I did a lot of research into programs in Hebrew Bible, I am a member of SBL and AAR and I try to keep up with what’s going on. However, some days my feelings about academia are similar to my feeling about religion: I know just enough about what goes on to not want to spend my life as a member. I sort of have a Good Will Hunting philosophy about biblical studies: you can get a good education for a buck thirty five in library fines [and internet access to Bible blogs and journals]. When with the movie reference, I’m far far far for a genius by any search of the imagination… just look at my spelling and grammar. Plus, I don’t see many decent job opportunities in academia (see the chapter on jobs in Hector Avalos’ The End of Biblical Studies. Yikes!). Also, after the split with AAR, it really hit home for me how “white” SBL appears. What I mean is the dramatic decrease in a visible racial minority presence at the 2008 meeting once AAR was gone. Unfortunately, I don’t have any hard statics to back this up, but I just wondered where “all” the racial minorities went once AAR left (not that there were many to begin with). What saddened me ever more, was that no one seemed to notice. Again I hope I’m wrong, but I haven’t heard much about this issue. Based on what I can gather about who gets the top jobs (I made an informal list of your blog and had a brief discussion with Brooke Lester on his blog) and what I see the annual meeting looks like demographically without AAR, I have a lot of questions about the academy. Anyway, enough about me.

    By the way, I found out about your blog after reading a discussion you had with someone on Alan Lenzi’s blog about new literary approaches (new meaning 1980s) and source criticism, just so you know (FYI, Joel Badin, who came up in that discussion has a thoughtful piece of source and new literary criticism in the most recent issue of JBL).

    Finally, just to make sure that my multiple attempts at levity are not forgotten: do you know who the biggest wrestling fan next to yourself is among Hebrew Bible scholars (I found out in my research into PhD programs) The only other hint I’ll give is that he or she is what you might refer to a “HUGE name.” Beyond that, I am sure you can find out through your network of Bible bloggers if you don’t know already. Consider this a fun game to make up for the long comment.

    Jill

  7. John Anderson says:

    Jill:

    Interesting as always, thank you. If you end up attending SBL and we run in to one another, please do introduce yourself.

    Regarding scholars who are wrestling fans, I note in another post that I know for a fact Patrick Miller is one; I have heard rumors also that Brueggemann is as well, though I have yet to confirm that with him . . . perhaps at SBL, when he and I meet.

  8. Jill says:

    Patrick Miller is what I’ve heard as well, not that I ever doubted your research skills! By the way, I’m a big House fan as well so I’ll know how to spot you if I make it to the meeting.

    Also, I forgot to tell you that I found Hendel’s Jacob book in a used book store but I haven’t read it yet, so I thought I’d get an informed opinion first. Thanks.

  9. John Anderson says:

    Jill:

    I am thankful that you think my opinion is an informed one!

    Good find on the Hendel book. I never have such luck! No book stores I frequent ever have anything in the religion section beyond the Bible code or the Left Behind series. C’mon now!

    At the meeting I will likely be gussied up a bit more. You know, networking and all. What that means is my shirt might be tucked in. But I should be recognizable enough.

    Shalom!

  10. N. T. Wrong says:

    Yahoo seems to think David is a good looking man. David certainly catches God’s eye in 1 Sam 16.12. (And methinks God doth protest too much in verse 7!)

    So if it’s good enough for Yahoo, I can’t see anything wrong for you to make such a comment. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, anyway.

  11. Roy "Eli" Garton says:

    I’ve got $10 riding on my ability to guess who “ripped off” your “unique fashion sense,” John. (BTW, if someone ripped it off, doesn’t that make it no longer “unique”?) If you ask me, though, neither one of you can pull off the House look . . . especially regarding the beard! : )

  12. Richard says:

    John, now you get to see how my mind works…poor you! One of the things that has been impressed upon me through reading N. T. Wright is that we should not be putting up barriers between Christians and Jews as regards dialogue between the two groups, hence I agree with your point 8 that in pronouncing YHWH we should say it “adoni”. There is no need to put a stumbling block between Jews and Christians over a minor issue of the latter but a major issue for the former.

  13. Jill says:

    So the earlier comments on House and his cane got me thinking about disability studies, which I’ve starting paying attention to since Nyasha Junior, who has really influenced me as I mention on Brooke Lester’s blog, co-wrote an article on disability and Moses with Jeremy Schipper in BI. This led me to Temple University’s website and I realized that this school hired both Mark Leuchter (Toronto) and Jeremy Schipper (Princeton Seminary) in recent years. Between the two of them, they seem to have an article in almost every recent issue of JBL, JSOT, CBQ, VT, ZAW (a very slight exaggeration – note the levity John) and a co-edited volume each. Leuchter has two monographs on Jeremiah. Schipper has two monographs, one on Mephibosheth and one on HB parables. Their monographs are with good presses (Cambridge, Sheffield Phoenix, T & T Clark) Schipper also runs the disability and healthcare session at SBL and coordinates SBL’s mid-Atlantic region. I think Jim Getz, whose blog you know, teaches at Temple too but I couldn’t find him on the website. Anyway, all this made me wonder if they are trying to build a PhD program in HB by hiring these rising stars? I think they are all under 40 but I’m not sure – to go back to our previous discussion. Does Temple University even have a PhD in HB? Given your research skills, John, I thought I’d ask. Do you or any bloggers know about this program? I heard Tommy Thompson got his PhD from Temple University, but I don’t know any other scholars and Thompson was certainly awhile back.

    Jill

  14. John Anderson says:

    True, and I feel blessed to have done so, Michael. It is a certain honor . . . I feel almost as though my blog has finally ‘arrived,’ now that NT Wrong has commented.

    People need to remember . . . I’m an OT guy. When I do read NT stuff, it is very particular.

  15. Michael says:

    You HAVE arrived. In fact, if I were honest, I would tell you that only only brought him or her up in the hopes that he or she would follow the link to my blog, thereby signaling my own arrival.

    Of course, I’m not honest, so I won’t be telling you any of that. : )

  16. Jeremy Schipper says:

    Hello all,

    First, thank you for your kind words about the scholarship coming out of the Temple University’s Department of Religion. To answer your question, you can do a PhD in Hebrew Bible through the department of Religion and the Jewish Studies program at Temple. In fact, we have a student from Westminster Seminary beginning the program this fall. I would be happy to answer any questions about our program in another venue. You may find contact information for me or Mark Leuchter at:

    http://www.temple.edu/religion

    Email works best because we are rarely in the office over the summer.

    All the Best,

    Jeremy Schipper

    • John Anderson says:

      Dr. Schipper:

      Thank you for weighing in! I am pleased, also, that you are reading my blog. Did you just come across it, or have you been following it for the short time it has been in existence? I do hope you will continue to comment and visit, and I do hope readers who are interested will avail themselves of your willingness to dialogue. Thank you.

      Off topic—any jobs coming up of which you are aware?!

  17. faithbasedworks says:

    Dear John,

    I think I understand your saying: I wish I was Jewish. (point 2) When considering the problems for example of the Christian Tradition and Church, Judaism has a better heritage, though certainly not perfect. But here my point, I’m very convinced that I share the most beauty of that God loving and fearing people, the Messiah. And that makes me one with them. I appreciate and like the word of Paul who said: to be grafted in. Maybe as a gentile I am more Jewish than many Jews by birth.

    Jos

  18. John Anderson says:

    Hi, Jos. Thanks for commenting. I am indeed on board with the image of being grafted on. My reading of the emergence of Jewish-Christianity in history, coterminous with Rabbinic Judaism, makes this point clear: Christianity has deep Jewish roots. And, to overlay a theological dimension on top of the historical, I actually very much appreciate Paul’s image in Rom 9-11 of being grafted on, which you cite. The image to me is clear. Jewish and Gentile-Christians are the branches that have been grafted on; Israel is the nurturing tree with deep, deep roots. It is sturdy, strong, and steadfast. And because of Israel, Gentiles have a place to stand before God. Assuming this is what you were saying, then I’m on board.

    I disagree, however (for myself; I won’t speak for your own personal sentiments) with your final statement.

  19. danielandtonya says:

    John,

    We’re jumping in late here.

    Regarding no. 8- We’ve always thought that Yahweh and YHWH were both intentional mispronunciations. Not only should the vowels be tweeked, but the W needs to be a V. We pretty much always write and vocalize Yahweh, because we know that that’s not how it was “originally” done. In short, just as Jehovah is not an English rendering of יהוה neither is Yahweh. Its much closer than Jehovah, but Yahweh is our Western vocalization that we know is not correct. So what’s the problem with it?

    D&T

  20. John Anderson says:

    Brian: Anything by Pat Miller is going to be quite good. Was there something in particular you were after (i.e., on Psalms, a particular aspect of the Psalter, or something else?).

    Daniel and Tonya: I think I’ve already answered this question above. It’s an idiosyncracy that I have. A personal choice. And I’ve outlined my other reasons.

    Many have used the argument of “we don’t know how it was pronounced” against me also. My response is still simple: that very well may be the case, but Jews–Western Jews–still don’t pronounce the Name. My other responses about presumption, triumphalism, inter-faith relations, all that above applies here. But at the same time, I also just think it is an element of respect towards God. And Israel.

    I don’t sit here brewing over it when others are pronouncing it; I’m surely in the minority at SBL, in my courses, and most everywhere. That’s fine with me. We all have our idiosyncracies. I’m not interested in converting others to my view. If they do, great. If not, it’s fine.

  21. Brian says:

    John – before going to AGTS I took a year of classes at Fuller Theological Seminary NW extension in Seattle. I took the first year Hebrew and then right away took a Hebrew exegesis course in the Psalms two of the books were Miller’s Interpreting the Psalms and Bruggemann’s Theology of the Psalms both of which I liked and none of which I ever saw at AGTS (sadly enough) – the OT prof there doesn’t really follow Bruggemann approach to the OT.

    I was wondering are very familiar with John Sailhammer and his stuff?

  22. John Anderson says:

    Brian:

    I’ve not read Sailhammer, but I am familiar with his approach. It’s not for me, personally, but there is certainly a voice he offers that is worthy of being heard.

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