Monday, August 18, 2014

The Blog so Far, and Honors Seminar on the Reception History of the Parables

I am nearing 100 posts on this blog, so perhaps a bit of assessment about what has been accomplished so far would be in order.

Reception History occupies a small niche in the study of the New Testament. Reception History of the parables, then, is a small niche within that small niche, so I realized starting out that the audience for this blog would be a relatively small one. All in all, though, I have been surprised by the number of hits on the blog and the variety of countries around the world represented in those hits (over 70 countries Blogger tells me). 

The total number of hits since I began the blog is less than the most popular biblioblog receives in one week (Jim West's blog), but I knew going in that the audience would be very small even after the blog became established, as it were. I decided, also before starting the blog, that it would be worth it even with that very small audience for the following reasons:

  1. It would help me write the book. That sounds odd, since writing a blog obviously takes time away that I could be spending in researching and writing the book, but it has helped. Most of all, it has helped me keep the audience for the book in mind. I need to write the book so that college-level students could understand and appreciate the Reception History of the parables. So I have tried to explain the complex in simple but not simplistic ways.
  2. When I have posted material that eventually will become sections of the book, I have revised those sections a fair amount before I posted them to the blog to make them clearer to a public audience. The process made me realize better how I need to revise sections of what I had written. After doing so for the blog, I then went back and revised sections of the book draft accordingly. So the book will become more readable and more clear, I hope, because of what I have done on the blog. The same thing happened with my lecture at Oxford University: Although preparing and giving the lecture took time away from the book, in the long run it will make the book better, because I have revised those sections of the book significantly in the process.
  3. I also have been able to include things on the blog that I won't be able to include in the book, such as a number of examples from visual art (e.g., several examples from Millais instead of just one or two). I also will include things that probably won't make the "cut" for the book. For example, I will write soon about some sculptures I saw at St. James Church in London a few weeks ago. Truly amazing. Only about 60 items can make the "cut" for the book, so the blog allows me to share publicly additional interesting interpretations of the parables.
So the blog has taken a little bit of extra time, but that has been helpful for me in thinking through what I wanted to write in the book, and I hope it has been helpful for the relatively small audience that reads all, some, or just one of the posts.

I am wondering whether, after the book comes out, I should continue this blog and expand it to the Reception History of the Gospels. We'll see.

Also, I received word a few weeks ago that I have been chosen to teach one of the three Honors Seminars at Oxford College of Emory in the spring semester (2015). My proposal was a course on the reception history of the parables, so I am hopeful that I can give parts of the book a “trial run” during that course. It should be fun. Once again, I hope that this course, like the blog, can help both the book and the students who read it.

So those are a few observations about what the blog has accomplished so far. In the next post, I will write about the people/interpretations that I have covered so far in chapters 3, 4, and 5.

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