Since this blog is on teaching and research I would be remiss to ignore the recent controversy surrounding the resignation of Lawrence Summers, the President of Harvard University.Â As an outside observer, it seems to me that Summers’ proposed initiatives were sensible and rational.Â Harvard must change the way it operates or it risks tarnishing its reputation even futher than it already is.Â Certain schools, notably the professional schools, are run very well and they seem to embrace change more amicably than the entrenched (can you say “tenure” see my previous post on this issue) Arts and Sciences school.Â Universities–every university and educational outlet–must always re-evaluate how they deliver education to the people they serve.Â Educational outlets must constantly change, even if they are micro-changes, in order to most effectively deliver education in this world of lighting fast communication and disruptive innovations.Â For the most part, the tenured faculty of Harvard’s Arts and Sciences department do not seem to understand this.
Furthermore, these faculty members are not faithful to the open-mindedness that they espouse.Â To merely mention the fact that genetic differences between genders should be further researched is a natural course of someone who embraces a commitment to open-mindedness.Â There may be zero correlation between genetic components and the ablility or desire to participate in certain disciplines, but a liberal society should pursues such questions open-mindedly.Â At one time I thought about studying at Harvard but my Dad wisely told me that Harvard was more hype than substance and that the education was not worth the money–all of the top tier schools are about the same and it is very hard to differentiate between the quality of their undergraduate programs (to be sure, graduate programs vary widely and I am exempting Harvard’s professional schools–minus the Divinity school–from my cost benefit analysis, their professional schools are worth the money but for reasons other than just the quality of their education).
If American universities do not embrace a consistent open-mindedness and a willingness and ability to change and innovate, then the golden age of these universitites has past and newer universities like Olin College and Babson College will leave Harvard in the dust.Â I would much rather go to either of these schools than Harvard.Â They get it, Harvard doesn’t.Â Olin and Babson care about giving their students the ability to achieve their dreams while many professors at Harvard are only concerned about themselves and preserving their perks and their narrow-minded and imperial view of the modern university.
But, don’t take my word for it.Â Here are two articles worth reading.Â One is from the National Organization for Women shortly after Summers’ infamous statement.Â The other article is from The Times.Â Read them both, then tell me what you think.
Reproduction of the Ishtar Gate in Babylon.
I have been around a lot of different people with different approaches to biblical studies.Â Some will never amend an ancient text and some can’t go one line without amending half the words.Â This begs the question, “Why do some people never amend while for others emendations are a normal course of reading every line?”
Well, it comes down to previous commitments and personality.Â We sometimes view research in biblical studies as strictly objective and unaffected by moods or personal tendencies, but this is far from true.Â Personalities and personal history (whether a person has a grudge against organized religion, or someone is a political animal or social activist, or someone has had a particular teacher that has made a big impact on them) have a larger influence on the methodologies and the final product of research than most people want to admit.
So, next time you read a book, read the preface and the personal dedication page.Â These may be the most important part of the entire book because they let you get a glimpse of the writer’s personal life.
What do you think?
I have added a link to Hyde Park Baptist Church, Cincinnati. It’s their new site and it’s worth checking out especially if you live in Cincinnati and are looking for a church.
Try out your modern Hebrew with this street art composition.Â Click on the photo and you will be taken to Flickr which will have a larger version of this picture along with translation helps.
Most of us in interested in Bible and ANE don’t have the money to constantly upgrade our computers as often as we would like (our money goes to publishers such as Brill, Eisenbrauns, and the likes). We need to stretch out the lives of our hardware in order to get maximal use out of our limited dollars. Jared Bridges at True Pravda has an interesting post about his positive experience with an open source opertating system called Ubuntu that is helping him do just that. If you want to extend the life of an old computer or your just fed up with Microsoft hastles, check out his post.
In honor of the new tomb discovery in Egypt, we dedicate the Weekend Edition of awilum.com to Egypt–complete with pictures. Enjoy.
The following selection is from a New York Times article [free registration required] concerning the find. This is really exciting stuff! It shows that as much archaeological exploration that has gone on, there is still stuff out there to find. Plenty more Akkadian tablets to unearth, more material culture to explore, probably many presently unknown languages to discover. All of this should give us some humility as we adjudicate ancient documents. Just because we lack positive confirmation of certain events or persons does not mean that we will never have confirmation.
“The first intact tomb discovered in 84 years at the Valley of the Kings near Luxor, Egypt, was formally opened today. It was discovered by a team of American archaeologists and is just 16 feet from King Tutankhamen’s tomb.
The discovery of the tomb, a rectangular chamber cut from the rock, was announced this week by Zahi Hawass, chief of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.
The tomb contains five mummies from the 18th dynasty era (about 1567 BC to 1320 BC) in wooden sarcophagi with lids carved in human shapes and colored funerary masks. The tomb also contains 20 sealed clay storage jars used for offerings and as vessels for beer, the director of Luxor monuments, Mansour Borraiyk, said in a telephone interview from Luxor…”
Over on the Daily Hebrew blog there are two really great posts.Â One highlighs a recent discovery of an Egyptian tomb in the Valley of the Kings–the first great discovery there since 1922.Â Also, the previous post displays the â€˜Izbet Sartah inscription with links to paleo-Hebrew fonts.Â It’s a fantastic site that’s worth checking out–congradulations on the new url!