Tag Archives: writing

New Things

As some of you may have seen on Facebook, I’ve been trying to figure out for a little while what to do with this blog. I haven’t been keeping up very well with posting, and part of the reason for that is that I didn’t want to be investing in a blog that ultimately I was going to reinvent (I should save new posts for the new blog instead, right?). I also wanted to have some sort of complete thought worth sharing before posting.

One of my ideas was to become more active (er, active at all…) on Walking Towards Jerusalem, a blog my husband Jeremiah started last year. He intended this to be a “biblioblog”—a blog focused on biblical studies—and told me I could join. I initially was enthusiastic because there aren’t many female bibliobloggers, but my interest has waned. It’s not that I don’t like blogging about the Bible—I just don’t like to feel constrained. He said I could blog about other things, as well, but I have never known if that blog was a good fit.

I also have considered helping this blog become more focused in order to attract a real audience. Ever since I stopped posting (i.e., when I started dating Jeremiah last March), my visits have virtually disappeared. I used to have a fairly active, though small, readership, but when you’re inconsistent for a while, even that small readership tends to fade. I thought that maybe if I came up with one thing to talk about, I could “market” this blog and make it “cool.” However, this is much easier said than done. Most of the time, I’ve felt void of ideas and like I was trying too hard.

In the end, I think I’ve decided two things. First, I’m working on an experimental blog, which is not yet up and running, aimed at smart teenagers who want to learn more about theology, etc. I have no idea if it will catch on, but this is my attempt to write about something that interests me that I feel the Internet actually needs. Hopefully there will be at least five high schoolers that agree that it is needed and will visit my little corner of the web. I’m interested in seeing what middle and high schoolers, as well as young college students, are interested in discussing from a more intellectual/academic perspective (or a more holistic perspective that at least begins to look at this angle of Christianity) and what needs might not be met by youth groups. Obviously, it’s only a sliver of the general population that really wants to learn more about theology, but I know I had various curiosities and interests in high school and am sure there are others like me out there. I don’t know many places offering the opportunity for teens to get an introduction to anything I’ve learned about in seminary (except for an interesting program at Duke Divinity School), so I’m interested just to see if there is a felt need for something like this—I hope to learn a lot in the process. If it is a total flop, the worst thing that has happened is I lost $15 on a domain name.

The second decision I’ve made is to try to stress a bit less about making this blog interesting or cool. I’m not going to try harder to think of a topical focus or to recruit an audience. I think that really, I may be better off acknowledging that many of my friends live far away and would be more interested in seeing what I’m doing and thinking about than my poor attempts at polished pieces of writing. (Not that many of my past posts have been particularly polished…)

I have tried to avoid a “personal blog,” because it feels too much like a twelve-year-old’s online diary, but the fact is, I don’t write for beliefnet or some other place that’s going to get me lots of traffic and turn me into a respectable guru on one of my passions. Instead, I’m just Ashleigh, a grad student who is thinking about various things and enjoying my life. Hopefully photo posts, incomplete thoughts, and similar goodies will be just as exciting to my five readers—maybe I can even entice my best friend to start reading again. ;o)


Filed under Announcements

Some ACT! ACT! [will certainly act] silly.

I may be regressing toward more less well-written posts.  Oh well, that’s that.

My primary topic of conversation with you tonight, dear reader, is the idiocy of many Christian scholars.  Ok, perhaps this is harsh.  I don’t even have a master’s degree yet.  But we have this one particular book in Pentateuch that is driving me up the wall.  It’s called, intuitively, The Handbook on the Pentateuch by Victor Hamilton, and I’m sure he’s smart and sweet and wonderful and funny, and maybe I even could learn a ton from him and he could defend himself against my amateur criticism… but sometimes he just drives me crazy.

(He amuses me, though.  And I think his book is a pleasant enough read as well as good for helping me create a mental map of large sections of the Torah. So if you’re reading this, Dr. Hamilton, I am sorry to be so mean, and I hope you will know that I have benefited from your book, as well…)

A few examples from today’s reading:

The Quick Dismissal
This move involves the mention of another scholar opinion followed by a polite statement to the effect of “But they’re just dumb and wrong.”

Ex: “Thus some scholars have argued here that Moses wore a mask with horns, or he was disfigured in some way through too much access to the divine glory (Propp 1987)–that is, his face blistered and looked like little horns.  That is hardly the case.” (p 226)

The reality is, none of them were there to see what happened, or even ask the biblical writers and redactors what they were trying to communicate, so they really don’t know.  But isn’t it fun to say?  The next time you disagree with someone about something you’re both merely theorizing about, please declare boldly that whatever they said is hardly the case!  It’s a lot of fun.

The Out-of-Context Christianese
Exactly what it sounds like.  Christianese is not an appropriate way to refer to events in the Hebrew Bible, friends.

Ex: About Israelites in Leviticus 17: “How is the believer to eat meat (a luxury item anyway?), and where is the believer to bring sacrifices?”  (p 285)

A tip for budding authors: if you’re writing a book targeted at American evangelicals, who often forget they’re not God’s “chosen people” anyway, don’t use their pet names for themselves in reference to Israelites.

The Magical Theological Disappearing Act!
This dramatic number involves the encounter of something difficult in the text, a mention of a frightening possibility, and a quick dismissal of said possibility due to evangelical theology.

Ex: In reference to God’s declaration that “You shall be holy for I am holy,” and the possibilitiy that this is a threat of some sort, “God’s way, however, is not to frighten or intimidate people into holiness, but to lure them into it by lifting up his own nature as the benchmark and model.” (p 283)

While it may be true that God’s not trying to scare them into holiness here, have you even read the rest of the OT?  God punishes people for sin–that’s pretty scary!  And not only that: he explicitly says of the law in Deuteronomy, “You have a choice between blessings and curses, life and death here, friends.”  This is not just a cute game of follow the leader into holiness, in my opinion; at points there are totally threats.

The Let’s-Interpret-the-OT-through-the-NT!
A classic!  One of my personal favorites.  This involves making unnecessary references to the New Testament when interpreting the Old.  It is one thing to do as Desmond Alexander does in his intro to the Pentateuch and include a section at the end of each chapter that talks about the relationship of the NT to that portion of the OT, largely discussing how the NT quotes or builds on that content.  It’s another thing entirely to mention the NT randomly as if everything were written at the same time by the same people.

Ex1: “First, God commands intolterance toward all pagan forms of worship (vv 11-16).  There is to be no yoking with unbelievers” (pg 225).

Ex2: “Of course, the phrase ‘you shall be holy as God is holy’ does not mean ‘you shall be as holy as God is holy.’  The idiom is known elsewhere in Scripture.  For example, Jesus says… Such comparisons abound in 1 John…” (pg 283)

First, don’t throw in a random sentence that makes clear reference to an NT verse.  It tells readers that it is wise to make a mental connection between the passages without necessarily reading them for themselves.  Whether or not it is a legitimate connection, it’s one they should make after reading and interpreting, not one you should make for them from the very beginning or without supporting your argument.

Secondly, while, again, it’s ok to talk about how the NT uses the OT, quoting the NT says nothing about what the Hebrew Bible was trying to say.  NT authors quote the prophets and Psalms like madness but that doesn’t mean the prophets thought they were writing Messianic prophecies.  Same goes for any other section of Scripture–just because someone else said something similarly another day doesn’t mean they were meaning the same thing.  Just because someone later thought they knew what someone before them meant when they said X doesn’t make the newbs right.


Hebrew Tidbit of the Day:
In Hebrew, there’s something called the absolute infinitive, which isn’t like a regular infinitive at all (a “to ____” verb) but rather means “will certainly ____” or “will surely ____,” as you may have seen reading the Hebrew Bible in English.  (It’s a pretty common construction.)  The interesting thing is, to use this form of the verb, you put the absolute infinitive (which isn’t conjugated for person, gender, or number) alongside the regular conjugated verb.  In a sense then, you’re saying the verb twice for emphasis.  The best example of this ever is in Genesis 2:16-17 when God is talking about not eating the fruit or else you’ll die.  Essentially he says, “So of the good fruit you will EAT! EAT! but the bad one if you eat you will DIE! DIE!”  I think that’s pretty sweet.

This construction in modern usage (as I recommend we all put into practice a little more often!):

If I do not go to bed now, I SLEEP! SLEEP! [will certainly sleep] through Pentateuch tomorrow!


Filed under Hebrew Bible, Theology & Ministry