My blog posts have been rare over the last couple of months. While no one out there on the web is holding his/her breath waiting for pearls of wisdom from my lips/keyboard, I do aspire to write more frequently in the months to come. If nothing else, writing helps me process things–no offense to any of my faithful readers (luv ya, Mom!).
This semester, I have been teaching a course at Eastern University, “Nature and Meaning of the Old Testament.” I have learned a great deal–not new content from my class preparation, but about teaching. I’m trying to develop thicker skin when it comes to dealing with students, while retaining softness and compassion for them as people. I wish that I could treat each of them as individuals when I’m grading just as I do when I’m speaking with them one-on-one. That is the most difficult part for me: handing out a good grade to a smart student whose work is good but clearly didn’t try hard, while at the same time handing out a par or sub-par grade for a struggling student who is truly learning but did his best. Grrr.
The most time-consuming aspect of teaching at Eastern has been the commute: with the traffic, I drive 90 minutes to St. Davids twice a week, and then backtrack 45 minutes to ICON for a half-day. As much as I have enjoyed teaching, I may not have agreed to do it if I had known that five hours of driving time would be added onto three hours of class time each week (to say nothing of prep and grading).
Between teaching, parenting, husbanding and son-in-law-ing, I have also been able to carve out a little time for writing. Next week I will be traveling to Atlanta for the annual meetings of ETS, IBR and SBL. I will be giving two papers at ETS: one on DtrH and Chronicles that I finished back in the spring, and one on the implications of the LXX for a Protestant understanding of canon and biblical authority. The LXX paper has really been a stretch for me to familiarize myself with a new literature, but I’ve learned a ton. The DtrH/Chr paper was more fun and may turn out to be a springboard into a several-year-long research agenda.
In June, I was offered a contract to publish my dissertation with T&T Clark, and I agreed to deliver the manuscript by January 1. The revisions have been coming along slowly. Before doing all the technical stuff–footnotes, formatting, etc., which I actually enjoy–I am working on paring down the text to make it more concise and less dissertationy. I had set out to integrate into the footnotes every relevant publication that I could find on the Tribe of Benjamin, but I quickly realized that there are too many, so I’m adding primarily anything that’s been published since I finished the research two years ago. There’s a lot written on Saul and a growing literature on Benjamin, which is encouraging–it means that there will be a market for my book (est. October 2016)!
I also received word just this week that my paper, “‘Special Forces’: A Stereotype of Benjaminite Soldiers in the Deuteronomistic History and Chronicles,” will be published in SJOT in the first issue of 2016. This is very welcome news, especially the assessment that only minimal revisions are necessary. If the terms of publication allow me to do so, I will post the article here or on academia.edu once it’s published.
These little victories are God’s way of affirming my calling and reassuring me that he will use me in these ways someday. He’s not obligated to provide these assurances–I should still obey him, anyway–but they are most welcome.