Thursday, February 28, 2019

Doing a carnival for Biblical Studies

The Biblical Studies Carnival is managed by Phillip Long at Reading Acts. If you want to do a carnival, please contact him via twitter at Plong42. This month's carnival is hosted here and will be out tomorrow. Watch for it.

Phil is looking for more volunteers. The process is useful for learning. So here are my process and parameters for doing a carnival.

I see the Biblical Studies carnival as a celebration of posts in the month. It is also a way for me to learn what is going on in the field. I search through over a hundred sites as well as social media groups to see what seems of interest to me. My purpose is to find those posts which best illustrate sound practices in Biblical Study that will get everyone to learn together.

It is, however, difficult to define 'the field'. Some of it is plowed every day. Some parts are abandoned with old and breaking furrows where one could turn an ankle. Some are overgrown with weeds and debris (taken over by enemies). Some are lying fallow and may sprout again. Some parts are new and as yet still finding discipline. Some of the field may be in a place in space-time where its light has not yet reached me.

Who is the farmer of the section of the field I am looking at? If I can't identify the author on a site, if the author has a pseudonym, or no profile, or a history of casting off weeds into neighboring fields, or posts on subjects that are unfocused, I am unlikely to spend time looking for the fruit on the trees or plants in the field.

But some sites have low-hanging and extensive fruit from well-qualified and known sources. Here I must be careful not to focus on eating too much that is to my taste. I limit what is in my basket to 2 perhaps 3 items per fruitful site.

Some sites, even if well stocked and of known authorial quality, are loci of distractions related to direct marketing of irrelevant items. These fields make reaching the produce more than a little unpleasant.

Some sites are confessional, some skeptical. I tend to avoid theology and sites devoted to one confessional stance unless it seems substantially and critically informed. Reception history, however, will let a wide set of sites participate. Even news sites and public sites not part of a Biblical Studies curriculum have articles that may be relevant.

The carnivals are English and tend to be dominated by English language authors within the domain of the ancient empire. I always try to find studies in fields foreign to me, to avoid excessive parochialism. We could do with more input.

What is substantial for me that I think would interest others?

  • something with serious engagement with the Scripture and related documents 
  • informed by verifiable study within the author's online presence
  • authored by someone credibly engaged with original languages, geographical and historical context, appreciation of the genre of the text under discussion
  • understandable, focused, polite discourse, and reliable information
During the months in which I have collected posts, it is often that some theme or other emerges across the several fields I search. That helps the carnival itself be focused. Sometimes a theme arises in my own social context and I use it to lighten the atmosphere since BS carnivals are supposed to be fun, ... but it is serious stuff with real-life consequences.

I think I tend toward too many entries. But the reader can pick and chose. I am not always critically aware of the nature of my decision to include or exclude. I read every post. I do have my biases.

The carnival will be out tomorrow. Watch for it.

No comments:

Post a Comment