Thursday, November 30, 2006

Ralph Turns Two

"Ralph" is 2 years old today. It's been a quiet year, but 2006 did see the single biggest day in RTSR history, in terms of hits, links, and chat-room chatter, caused by this post. It also saw Bloglines subscriptions reach an all-time high of 66 (and then begin falling; current number is 61).

Beginning tomorrow: Year 3 A. R.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

I've been busy.

Sorry for the non-blogging. Since I've had a full-time non-academic job this year, most of the available writing time that I've had (not much) has been devoted to other compositions:
  • a Dictionary of Qumran Aramaic; so far the draft reaches from aleph to het;
  • a review of Ursula Schattner-Rieser's L'araméen des manuscrits de la mer Morte for Journal for the Study of Judaism, now published;
  • an article for Aramaic Studies, "The 'Kaufman Effect' in the Pseudo-Jonathan Targum," now in page proofs, to be published in volume 4/2;
  • a 2000-word entry for the Dictionary of Early Judaism on "Aramaic, Jewish use of in the Second Temple Period"; I spent Thanksgiving vacation finishing that one.
So ... see? I've been writing, not blogging. It's amazing how much you can get done when you don't blog. I do miss it, though, and hopefully the coming year I can blog a bit more.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Armistice Day

From Paul Fussell's The Great War and Modern Memory (1975):

There is one unforgettable vignette which if true is fine, and which if apocryphal is even better. It is Herbert Essame's memory of the German machine-gunner signaling the closing of a long run on November 11, 1918: "On the Fourth Army front, at two minutes to eleven, a machine gun, about 200 yards from the leading British troops, fired off a complete belt without a pause. A single machine-gunner was then seen to stand up beside his weapon, take off his helmet, bow, and turning about walk slowly to the rear."

Friday, November 03, 2006

Bright Fountain

Today is the feast day in the Anglican Communion of Richard Hooker, priest, author of On the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity. Hooker's remarkable book is still influential in the Communion among both liberals and conservatives, and his extraordinary prose style — the finest, in my opinion, of the Elizabethan period — reminds us that he was a contemporary of Shakespeare. There were giants in the earth in those days.

Here is an excerpt, in which Hooker argues (against the Puritans) for the value of secular learning:

There is in the world no kind of knowledge whereby any part of truth is seen, but we justly account it precious, yea, that principal truth, in comparison whereof all other knowledge is vile, may receive from it some kind of light. Whether it be that Egyptian and Chaldean wisdom mathematical, wherewith Moses and Daniel were furnished; or that natural, moral, and civil wisdom, wherewith Solomon excelled all men, or that rational and oratorial wisdom of the Grecians, which the Apostle St. Paul brought from Tarsus, or that Judaical, which he learned at Jerusalem sitting at the feet of Gamaliel, to detract from the dignity thereof were to injury even God himself, who, being that light which none can approach unto, hath sent out these lights whereof we are capable, even as so many sparkles resembling the bright fountain from which they rise.

"To injury," by the way, is not a misprint; just a sign of how the language has changed since 1589.