Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Two things and a word of thanks

First: I have switched gears on the parables book from researching and writing to reworking, rethinking, and rewriting. This blog has helped me maintain a writing style that is accessible to students and others, but I am working to "craft" the book more, not only to separate the wheat from the chaff (hopefully there are no tares to be ripped out!) but also to make it more readable and profitable for those who do read it. The Honors Seminar on the reception history of the parables last semester helped with that as well; the students were very affirming that the sections they read were clear, enjoyable, and profitable. After I get closer to those goals in the rewriting process, I will later write the introduction to the book and tie some things together.

In addition, as I have mentioned many times before, this process includes cutting tens of thousands of words from the first draft. This week, for example, I rewrote Chapter 3 and in the process eliminated 14,000 words (from ~37,500 to ~23,500 total words; 4000 from the Bunyan section alone). The process of cutting words will only get tougher the further along I get, but this past week was a great start to getting within striking distance of the word count.

Second: I will start a new project tomorrow. It is a chapter for a book being edited by Frank Dicken and Julia Snyder: Characters and Characterization in Luke-Acts, which will be published by T & T Clark in their Library of New Testament Studies series. My chapter is entitled, "The Characterization of the Two Brothers in the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32): Their Function and Afterlives." The chapter will be in part a return to work on characterization I did over 25 years ago for my first book (Host, Guest, Enemy, and Friend: Portraits of the Pharisees in Luke and Acts), but it also will incorporate my more recent reception historical research. I'll post more about that book chapter later. 

For the next few weeks, then, I will alternate between rewriting the drafts of the reception history of the parables book and the researching and writing of the book chapter. Working on the book chapter will give me a "break" from the rewriting/rethinking/editing of the reception history book--it's easier to lose focus on those latter types of tasks, because you keep reading/revising/editing the same material over and over again, which can lead to a more sanguine approach than is helpful for such tasks.

Finally, a word of thanks: James Ernest, my editor for the parables book, recently announced that in June he will begin a new adventure: He will be Editor in Chief and a Vice President at Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing.

Congratulations, James! I will miss working with you--I couldn't have asked for a better editor--but I am delighted that you have received this well-earned position. Best wishes!

A year and a half ago, I contacted James about an idea I had for a book, a somewhat technical work about visual and textual exegesis that used Rembrandt and the parables as a test case. James suggested, if I recall correctly, that Baker Academic might be interested in the volume I was proposing, but he also suggested (correctly) that there was a much more important book that needed to be written first: an introductory reception history of the parables volume. So he deserves the credit for the fact that this book is being writing in the first place.

Thank you, James, for everything; it's been great working with you, and I wish you all the best at Eerdmans. 

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