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Kalamazoo 2015 Saturday Update and Wrap-up

Well, Saturday was another warm one but absent the rain for the most part. I went to the first two sets of sessions and took the third one off for a nap. This wasn’t so much to make it through the rest of the day but so I could drive home today(more on that later). Once I got up and cleaned up I hit the mead tasting, grabbed my two display copies of books, and headed to the Pseudo Session.

I don’t review the Pseudo Session – I mean, you have to be there, right? I believe this may be the best session I’ve ever been to for overall quality of “papers.” I’d rate two as outstanding – worth being on my list of all-time greats. The other two were very good though you did have to really follow along for one of them as it was a textual analysis. Besides, learning more about the Vikings, IKEA, Petrarch, King John and Anselm is always useful. I should note that after however long he’s had the job – he was doing this at my first Kalamazoo in 2000 or 2001 (I forget) – Richard Ring is stepping down as the organizer of the Pseudo Society Sessions. He’s put a lot of work into this for a lot of years and the program always delivers. There are some folks taking over but we’ll all be sad to see him go (though I really think he needs to give a paper next year).

I did make it to the dance but didn’t hang around long, really for two main reasons. First I was bored and didn’t work very hard at not being bored – you get out of things what you put into them and I didn’t put much into it. Second, my back was bothering me. As you age, you’d think you’d want to be sedentary and sit around. For me it’s the opposite. If I sit much over multiple days my back tells me it doesn’t appreciate it and by Saturday night I’d sat a LOT. I don’t know if dancing would have helped or hurt things and didn’t want to chance it so I headed back to the dorm and went to sleep.

Which brings me to why I’m posting at about 10 a.m. Sunday. What! you may ask – does Kalamazoo not last through Sunday? Do they not have sessions? It does and they do. I was planning to attend an 8:30 but not a 10:30 session as I didn’t see one which really interested me and that would get me on the road sooner. Well, I woke up this morning – wide awake with my brain not giving any hint that sleep might return any time soon. This was at 4 a.m. So after thinking on it a bit I decided that I might as well put wheels on the road which I did and I got home right about when the first sessions would have been starting, around 8:30.

I don’t have a long wrap-up. I enjoyed it as always. I appreciated having the chance to talk to several medievalists, particularly Guy Halsall and Cullen Chandler, more extensively than in the past. As always, I like interacting with grad students. I really appreciate their enthusiasm and it always fires me up too, a little. There are worthwhile things going on and a lot of good, young people involved in doing them. I enjoy this when it’s in agriculture and I enjoy it here too. Plus while everyone is a discoverer in life, quite often I find myself more on a par with grad students when it comes to where they are on the voyage, at least when it comes to history. I’m afraid in my field I must come across as an old fogy.

I’m a bit surprised how many people recognize this blog, which also means I’m feeling guilty for not posting more often over the past year or so. The sessions were good but it surprised me that it took me a couple to really get in the flow of following arguments. I don’t recall that from the past few times I’ve attended so evidently a gap of one year between hearing papers isn’t enough to atrophy my brain but three years is. We’ll see how that works when I get to session summaries. Medievalists construct arguments differently from what I’m accustomed to plus it’s largely textual where I’m used to charts, graphs and numbers. I know in general I think a bit differently from historians, at least when it comes to looking at evidence and this was another reminder.

And finally, we should talk books. I ended up with 21. That visit to Powell’s sent me above my goal of 20. I was right on target until, while making a last scan, I spotted a translation of, On Anatomical Procedures by Galen for $10. My shopping was very different this year. I only visited about 8 booths, those where I have historically bought a lot in the past. It helped me to keep from getting tripped up though I had to work very hard to stay out of Brepols. Love their stuff but I don’t need to be buying high end monographs right now. If you’re interested in seeing the damage, you can check out my LibraryThing account for books tagged, “ICMS 2015.” Hopefully the link works.

I’m glad I had the chance to meet and talk with some of you. For those I didn’t see, maybe next year. Something could always come up but as of now there’s nothing on the horizon which should keep me away in 2016.

I’ll close with an image which you’re welcome to take a look at any time you start to miss Kalamazoo.Bilbos

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Posted by on May 17, 2015 in Books, Conferences

 

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Taking Stock on Early Christianity Reading Progress

Ever have one of those moments when you look at where you’ve been and where you have yet to go and wonder what in the world you’ve gotten yourself into? Most of us probably have at one time or another. As I’m about to start reading on Origen, I took a look at my to read bookcase (a few years ago this was a single shelf, now it has 236 books on it) to get an idea of what Early Christianity books I have left.

This was a mistake. Over two years ago when I first started reading on Early Christianity I had 37 books on my Late Antiquity/Christianity shelf (books on Christianity to about the year 700). I’ve been reading on this for 25 months. During that time I’ve read 85 books on this or related topics, not to mention however many sources I’ve gone through from the Ante-Nicene Fathers Series along with a few things I’ve found online.

Here I am two years later and I have 90 books on the shelves, though to be fair five are actually about Neoplatonism (still need to be read). I should not have counted. I really thought I was making progress. With Origen I’m approaching the middle of the 3rd century. I thought I’d read up to Nicaea, fill in a few gaps on the 4th century Cappadocians, get to Jerome and Augustine, read a bit on the development of monasticism and then turn to the Carolingians (27 books on them) followed by the Anglo-Saxons (21 books). I thought I’d be done with my intensive Early Christianity reading by early summer. On counting books, I honestly have no idea how long it’ll take. And I have no illusions on my not buying a few more books to add to the pile.

I’m stubborn so I’ll finish this up. I just had no idea that I had this much material to go through. Crazy. I think I need to have an electrode plugged into my brain so whenever I start thinking about buying books I’m shocked back to my senses.

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2013 in Blogology, Books, Religion

 

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Let’s Philosophize: Time to Get Platonic

Since reading Clement it’s become clear that in order to figure out him and the other third century authors I’m going to have to get much more up to speed on philosophy, in particular Middle Platonism. I knew this was going to happen and until reading Clement I figured it would be after reading Origen. I’m moving this up a bit.

Another development I want to read on is the transition from Middle Platonism to Neoplatonism and figuring out an answer to a question I have for myself; Did the transition from Middle Platonism to the mystical Neoplatonism of Iamblichus have something to do with the increasing popularity of/conversion to Christianity in the 3rd century? I’m not sure if I’ll do this all at the same time or take a break from it, read some Christian sources, then return.

As I’ve been aware I’d need to do this for some time, really ever since I started this Early Christianity Reading effort, I’ve been picking up books on it for some time. I already have the following (I’m not typing full references here, I’m sure I’ll get to that when I actually refer to them):

  • Plotinus, The Enneads, ISBN: 978-0-140-44520-6 – This is the Penguin Edition.
  • Mark Edwards, Culture and Philosophy in the Age of Plotinus, ISBN: 978-0-7156-3563-6.
  • Iamblichus, Iamblichus on the Mysteries of the Egyptians, Chaldeans, and Assyrians, ISBN: 978-1-108-07304-2.
  • Mark Edwards, trans., Neoplatonic Saints: The Lives of Plotinus and Proclus by their Students, ISBN: 978-0-85323-615-3.
  • Paulina Remes, Neoplatonism, ISBN: 978-0-520-25860-0.

Anyone who’s read this blog for ANY period of time will be unsurprised to learn that I spent a few hours this morning looking for resources and – I know this will come as a shock – bought some books:

  • John Dillon, The Middle Platonists: 80 B.C. to A.D. 220, ISBN: 978-0-801-48316-5.
  • Plutarch, Essays, ISBN: 978-0-140-44564-0. Another Penguin, I really don’t want to buy all the Loeb volumes of either this or the Enneads at $24 per book. (More correctly, I want to buy them, I just don’t want to pay for them.)
  • Alcinous, The Handbook of Platonism, ISBN: 978-0-198-23607-8.

dillonJohn Dillon, Professor Emeritus of Trinity College, Dublin. I have a feeling I’ll be reading a lot of his books.

I’m not sure what this will do to my posting frequency. I’ll have one or two more on Irenaeus and I have a couple of other aspects of 1st and 2nd century Christianity that I think will make interesting posts. I have a volume of The Journal of Late Antiquity sitting on my coffee table and it seems like forever since I’ve looked at Early Medieval Europe so I may make occasional forays back (chronologically forward) to my main area of interest. But for the short term I’m back to diving into something I’m not terribly familiar with and I’ve always been hesitant to write about things I don’t know about; even my Early Christianity posts over the past 9 months since I went “back to the beginning” have been a stretch.

Those of you who are professional independent scholars
or work at a SLAC may want to stop reading NOW!!

Yeah, I know that always works.(ducks)

OK, so I’m in the middle of looking for sources and come across one by Eugene Afonasin, John Dillon and John Finamore, Iamblichus and the Foundations of Late Platonism. It’s published by Brill and the price is out of my range so I decide to see if Purdue has a copy which I can check out sometime. Gotta love those libraries, right?

So I log on and about three clicks later I find myself in the middle of something titled Brill Online Which apparently I have access to through Purdue. Which apparently allows me to download Brill volumes, including the Iamblichus volume. For free.

To the previously referred to SLAC professors/independent scholars, I give you permission. It’s OK to hate me though I ask that you not do so permanently.

I have things to do today so I won’t get to this but tomorrow happens to be a holiday, Labor Day in the US. I have a feeling my internet connection will literally be smoking. Is there a diagnosed Compulsive Internet Book Addiction Disorder (C-I-BAD)? If there is, I expect that by Tuesday I’ll be receiving e-mails offering me assistance for my problem.

 

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Book Buying IV: This is how I get in Trouble

I received an e-mail from Barnes and Noble with a 20% off one item offer, good through the end of today (Sunday, August 18, 2013 for anyone who may stumble across this in the future). Now ordinarily a 20% off deal isn’t enough for me to pull out the credit card. But as I’ve been reading ancient Christianity sources I keep finding myself wanting to pick up a modern book or two on a particular author, mainly as a check on myself to make sure I’m not completely misreading what the source material says. 1 As an example of this, as I began reading Clement of Alexandria I picked up Clement of Alexandria by Eric Osborn, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2005). ISBN: 978-0-521-09081-0.

As I’m coming to the third-century I thought this offer would be a good chance to pick up something I’m pretty sure I’ll want when reading those authors, all while saving a few bucks. Makes sense, right? So I started working through my wishlisted Christianity books on Library Thing to see what I should order.

I came up with two books:
Allen Brent, Cyprian and Roman Carthage, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2010). ISBN: 978-0-521-51547-4 and
Peter Martens, Origen and Scripture: The Contours of the Exegetical Life, Oxford: Oxford University Press (2012). ISBN: 978-0-199-63955-7

However, in the same category in Library Thing was; Anthony Briggman, Irenaeus of Lyons and the Theology of the Holy Spirit, Oxford: Oxford University Press (2012). ISBN: 978-0-199-64153-6

When I’m looking for information on books I typically go to Amazon. I’m familiar with how their book pages are laid out and it gives me the information I want for the spreadsheet I keep where I list the books I own and those I want (this is my backup to Library Thing). Whenever possible, I buy books from someone else. I don’t have an Amazon boycott or anything but I’ve had some negative experiences with them and am not completely thrilled with some of the labor practices they’ve adopted as they’ve transitioned from a small virtual bookseller to the online version of WalMart. If I can find a book for close to the same price elsewhere, I buy from elsewhere.

Anyway, the Martens book was around $100 at Amazon (unless I want to rent it, WTF is that about? is Amazon trying to compete with libraries or end Inter-Library Loans?). It was higher at B&N so that went off the list. However Brent was under $70 so with 20% off it’s reasonable. Except at B&N it’s also at about 100. Briggman was a bit under 80 at Amazon but around $120 at B&N.

That ended my use of the 20% off. (I also checked publisher prices BTW). You’d think this meant I didn’t buy something, right? Well, you only think that if you don’t know me very well. By this time I was infected as visions of a shiny new book on a topic I’m interested in were running through my head. The addiction had kicked in; I needed my fix.

My opposition to Amazon isn’t on the same scale as, say, Nike due to their labor practices. So it came down to a choice between Briggman and Brent from Amazon. I’ve complained rather frequently that if I do what I want to do which is really dive into early Christianity (I’ve now been reading on it for 20 months so I’m beginning to question my use of “really dive into”) I’ll never get back to the 4th-6th centuries. This means leaving my knowledge level below my inclinations. I’ve already read Irenaeus and bought one modern book about him. And I’ve started my Irenaeus posts on this blog. So I should buy a book on Cyprian, right? Wrong.

Irenaeus_Briggman_Cover

Subsequent posts on Irenaeus will have to wait until I finish Briggman, despite my being over a thousand words into one. The interesting thing is that Irenaeus’ theology related to the nature of God and Christ wasn’t one of the major points I was going to be talking about. I was going to mention it as he writes in Trinitarian terms and explicitly states that Christ was begotten which indicates a progression from Justin Martyr, however his thinking is not yet refined to that displayed during the Nicaean-Arian conflict of the Fourth Century. But I expect Briggman will discuss more than just this.

Instead I’ll be following with some interesting issues discussed by Christian writers from the first and second centuries. I suspect some of these continued into the 3rd and even the early fourth but I’d hate to not post for another month while I finish this book. And there are a couple of interesting things in Clement of Alexandria which I think would make good posts.

When I started this whole Christianity thing I had a plan. I seem to be having trouble keeping to it. There’s just way too much interesting stuff to look into. At some point I need to quit complaining about this though. I think it’s just my nature.

1 As I’ve stated before, a huge weakness for me is that I don’t read Greek or Latin, though I am capable enough in the latter to parse through it and determine if a translation means what the English version says. However the Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers Series’ I’m using are a) old (though generally considered OK despite being written in Victorian English) and b) not accompanied by the Latin or Greek originals. So reading modern books, among other things, is a way to make sure that what I’m seeing in a translated source isn’t due to a misinterpretation/mistranslation. To date this has happened occasionally though not related to what I’d consider a major issue.

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2013 in Books, Religion

 

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This Always Troubles Me

In addition to history, I’m something of a stats geek. I like to see who’s reading this blog, where they come from, and how they got here. One issue (pretty much the only one) I have with my move to WordPress is that for this separate stats site I use, StatCounter, not as much information is displayed as with Blogger. But there’s still enough to figure some things out.

Today when I went to my stats page I noticed that my review of Romans, Barbarians and the Transformation of the Roman World by Ralph Mathisen and Danuta Shanzer, eds., had received several hits. Cool. Then I looked at search terms used to find this blog.

free essay on transformation on roman and the barbarians
free essay paper on transformation on romans and the barbarians
romans transformation to the barbarian
essay on transformation on the romans and barbarian brothers

In going to StatsCounter I found that all of my pageviews for this review came from a single IP address originating from Sanford, North Carolina. Someone’s looking for a free essay online. I love seeing such commitment to learning, it gives me hope for the future (this was sarcasm in case it didn’t come through).

I suppose I should be used to it. It’s less prevalent than when I was on Blogger but ever since I wrote it my A World Lit Only by Fire review has been the most popular post on this blog. But at least on WP it’s about 5% of my hits, not over 20%. And even though a lot of those searches include things like “sparknotes” in the title, what’s in the review likely won’t be of much help to AP history students. After all, Advanced Placement thinks it’s a viable source.

Romans, Barbarians and the Transformation of the Roman World is a bit different. The review’s pretty lengthy, detailed (over 2300 words) and some of it might actually be worth stealing. Of course it’s also a book worth reading so if it’s for high school at least they’ve raised the quality of what’s being referenced. But I have a sneaking suspicion this may come from the local Community College.

So, if the person who used those search terms happens to come across this, here’s some free advice:


READ THE BOOK!

It’s a pretty good one.

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2013 in Blogology

 

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Book Buying III

I’ve been good lately. The only books I’ve bought over the past couple of months were from Notre Dame University Press’s Overstock Sale. Part of the reason is that I’ve been very busy at work and haven’t had the chance to read much lately. If you want to know more about what’s taken up most of my recent time you can take a look at this post from my work blog. This activity, along with a new national working group that developed out of an Agrosecurity Conference I was involved with, was a major contributor to my absence from Kalamazoo this year.

So, partly in honor of all of you who are currently surrounded by all those books at Leeds (if I ever attend I’ll need to very carefully check out international shipping rates) and even more because it’s a US holiday and I have time, I decided to spend some money.

As usual, nothing ever goes quite according to plan. I’d bought a few books and decided to check my e-mail – I check my home e-mail rarely, usually only on weekends. In it was an announcement of Oxford University Press’s Summer Sale. You can guess what happened then.

Once the keyboard quit smoking I’d done the following damage (I’m not giving full citations here):


  • Ayres, Lewis, Nicaea and Its Legacy: An Approach to Fourth-Century Trinitarian Theology

  • Connolly, Hugh, Didascalia Apostolorum. There’s a Brepols edition of this by Alistair Stewart-Sykes which looks like it offers superior commentary but it’s also 4 times the price.

  • Hunt, Emily, Christianity in the Second Century: The Case of Tatian

  • Moreira, Isabel, Heaven’s Purge: Purgatory in Late Antiquity

  • Morgan, Gwyn, 69 A.D.: The Year of Four Emperors

  • Osiek, Carolyn, A Woman’s Place: House Churches In Earliest Christianity

  • Parvis, Sara, Irenaeus: Life, Scripture, Legacy

  • Peters, F.E., Jesus and Muhammad: Parallel Tracks, Parallel Lives

The danger’s not entirely over. I have an e-mail from David Brown(Oxbow) books about new book bargains. I haven’t clicked on the link yet. I suppose that compared with what I usually pull off at Kalamazoo this is pretty mild.

Hopefully a post on Irenaeus is forthcoming. I’ve started it but am struggling with keeping it to a reasonable length.

EDIT: Guess I should have waited to post this. Anyway, I added four more from David Brown.


  • Elliott, J.K., The Apocryphal Jesus: Legends of the Early Church

  • Otto of Freising, Charles Mierow, trans., The Two Cities

  • Pestell, Tim, Landscapes of Monastic Foundation: The Establishment of Religious Houses in East Anglia, c.650-1200

  • Wilson, Stephen, Leaving the Fold: Apostates and Defectors in Antiquity

I think I’m calling it a day, at least for buying books.

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2013 in Books

 

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Repost: Marginalia; An Online Review Journal

There may be a way to do a full repost in WordPress but evidently I haven’t figured it out yet(I knew how in Blogger). Anyway, I read this on The Heroic Age and thought it sounded excellent. Then I clicked on the link for the current issue and thought it was even better. Thanks to Larry Swain for the original post.

Marginalia

Dear Colleagues,
I am writing to proudly announce the launch of Marginalia: A Review of Books in History, Theology and Religion. As publicity assistant to the Editorial Board at Marginalia, I would be grateful if you could pass along this notification to your institution’s press department and / or mailing list, as it will doubtless be of immense interest to students and academics across the disciplines of history, theology and religion. I also attach our latest press release.

Marginalia is an international review of academic literature from a range of disciplines along the nexus of history, theology and religion, providing timely, open-access reviews of the highest scholarly calibre. We hope to raise the standard of the academic book review, publishing only the most incisive and thoughtful reviews. Reviewers should expect their reviews in Marginalia to be easily discoverable by Google and other search engines, and so to have more visibility and accessibility than in some traditional print-based journals. We encourage reviewers to give careful thought not only to the content but also to the presentation of the review, and hope to see the academic review in theology and religion move closer to the standard of the Times Literary Supplement or the New York Review of Books.

Since Marginalia is a wholly devoted to the review of academic literature, we would also like to make a call for future contributions, the guidelines for which can be found here.

Finally, a walk-through of the website and introductions to our fine editorial board can be found on our Youtube channel.

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2013 in Books, Other Blogs

 

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