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  • Randall Short 9:14 am on July 21, 2012 Permalink  

    Japanese Biblical Studies: for the Church, Academy, and World 

    My new blog, Japanese Biblical Studies, is all about biblical studies by and/or for Japanese.

    JapaneseNewInterconfBiblePhoto by Yoshi Canopus

    The first post, Introducing Japanese Biblical Studies, lists my 6 categories:

    • News
    • Publications
    • People
    • Education
    • Pop Culture
    • Nota Bene

    I usually encourage my kids and students to keep in mind a particular audience when they write. I’m still working on that. 

    Who do you think might be interested?

  • Randall Short 12:38 pm on March 10, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: Arts and Sciences, Education, , Harvard   

    Making Big Ideas White-hot 

    It’s fairly common to see college professors become hugely popular in Japan. For one reason or another, they’ll suddenly become regular guests on TV variety shows, and their books will start selling like crazy. This happens to foreign professors, too. Like Harvard University’s Michael Sandel.

    NHK, Japan’s widely-viewed public TV station, made Sandel into a star in Japan when it began airing his Justice lectures. NHK’s title for the program is Harvard White-hot Classroom (Habado Hakunetsu Kyoshitsu / ハーバード白熱教室).

    Justice with Michael Sandel

    NHK DVD at Amazon Japan

    A lot of people watched this program. I mean a LOT. So today, you can walk into a small, general bookstore just about anywhere in Japan and find Sandel in translation, books about Sandel’s books, and books about Sandel’s teaching style.

    Professor Sandel was characteristically humble in his reaction to the Japanese public’s swooning over him and his Justice course.

    “I am astonished and delighted by the popularity of ‘Justice’ in Japan. There seems to be a great yearning, in Japan as in the U.S., for public discussion of big ideas, especially about ethics and values.”
    Japan Real Time (WSJ)

    I think he’s right about the “yearning” in Japan to learn and discuss big ideas. But the fact is, it took someone like him, with his engaging teaching style, to make it happen. How does he do it? Certainly not by remaining behind the lectern and delivering a dry talk. What then? At Organizing Creativity, Daniel Wessel explains many of Sandel’s teaching practices:

    • Well-Timed speech
    • Suiting movements
    • Shows everyday relevance of the issues
    • Encourages participation [Daniel explains 9 strategies]
    • Minding the overall course of the discussion, lecture, course
    • Keeps the discussion personally relevant but in a personal distance

    Daniel explains these points in quite a bit of detail, so do take a look.

    Sandel may be a genius, but I suspect that he has also worked incredibly hard to package and deliver his “big ideas” so effectively. Don’t overlook this point: Sandel is teaching some of the world’s most intelligent young people, and yet, he doesn’t take the “easy” route of using the arcane language of his discipline. Instead, he communicates some of the world’s deepest philosophical and ethical thinking through language, stories, and techniques that can appeal to ordinary people in foreign countries. That’s truly remarkable.

    For the past couple of years, I’ve been working with a friend and colleague to do something similar for English learners (especially for ESL / EFL learners, but also for emerging readers who are native English speakers).


    I meet a lot of people in Japan who have given up on learning English after finishing their formal education. Schools motivated them through tests and entrance exams. “Learning English” was/is often the primary goal of English learning. So, what we’re trying to do at is to help people refocus their language-learning goals on things that really matter, like the big ideas they can learn and the meaningful connections they can make.

    We’re convinced that people’s curiosity about arts and sciences around the world can help to sustain individual and community learning for a lifetime. Okay, maybe that’s a complicated way to put it. What I mean is this. We think that big ideas are white-hot. And we think that, if we tell them right, they’ll light a fire that no one can put out.


    • Kennedy 9:22 pm on March 10, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      He does not give surmountable conclusions at the end of his lectures, but leaves everybody hanging and guessing, while at the same time making one appreciate that the issues discussed are bigger than oneself, and the debates will go on.

    • Randall Short 3:48 pm on March 11, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Good points. Being left guessing . . . being drawn up into stories and ideas bigger than yourself . . . you can’t help but think and talk with others about it. Sort of like what happens with some of the best TV drama series. But we tend to make class sessions like bad sitcoms. There’s never a problem that can’t be solved in 22 minutes.

  • Randall Short 1:49 pm on January 3, 2012 Permalink  

    Exporting Entries from Day One to Scrivener 

    I’ve been enjoying Day One (Bloom Built) on my MacBook Pro and iPad from day one of 2012. I’m already using it to record thoughts and ideas on a range of topics, and I tried my first export of journal entries today.


    One problem is that Day One exports all of the entries into a single text file. I like the text file. But I don’t like (a) not being able to choose which entries to export, and (b) having them all in a single file.

    I don’t have a solution for exporting a selection of entries. It appears that Day One is working on that, including some sort of tag feature.

    Enter Scrivener.

    Scrivener. Y'know - for writers.

    Scrivener gives you an easy way to convert Day One’s single text file into separate entries.

    1. In Day One, conclude each entry with any set of characters that you’re unlikely to use in the body of your entries. I use five dashes.
    2. Export your entries from Day One (File -> Export).
    3. In Scrivener, select File -> Import -> Import and Split. A file selection window should open.
    4. At the bottom of the file selection window, you should see a smaller window labeled “Sections are separated by:” Type your character set there (for example, it’s five dashes for me), and click “Import.”

    That should do it. You should now see all of your Day One entries as separate documents in Scrivener’s binder. And if you wish, you can easily export these from Scrivener as separate files in one of several formats.

    I expect that Day One will provide their own solution in the future, but I couldn’t wait.

    • abas 8:34 am on October 10, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      thanks very useful tip!

    • Jose Luis Farina Peters 1:19 am on January 2, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Wonderful, Randall!

      Simple enough, yet hadn’t crossed my mind.

      Thank you!

    • tommy 4:46 pm on January 7, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      I’ve been interested in Day One for a while, but balked because I read a number of reviews indicating they lost all their entries. I have Scrivener so I think this method of backing up will alleviate my fear of losing any work I put into Day One.

      WIll this method bring over any images added to the post, or have you tried that?

      • Randall Short 5:21 pm on January 7, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        I haven’t had any problems with lost entries, but I remember reading something about that awhile back. Let’s hope they’ve fixed that by now.

        I’ve never used images in Day One (or Scrivener, for that matter), but I just gave it a shot. The image didn’t make it through. Day One only supports exports in Text and Markdown formats, and the images get stripped at that point.

        I never really thought about storing images in Day One, but this review makes a good case for it (though, someone there, too, comments on the inability to export photos):

  • Randall Short 11:20 am on March 3, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: biblical studies, conference, sbl   

    Wordling the SBL’s 2011 Annual Meeting 

    Later this year, the Society of Biblical Literature will hold its annual meeting in San Francisco. Here are two Wordles I created from the program unit descriptions.*

    2011 SBL Program Units Wordle 1

    2011 SBL Program Units Wordle 2

    It’ll be interesting to see Wordles of the actual paper titles, but we’ll have to wait a few more months for that.

    Any surprises so far?

    *Note that I lowed all caps, and I deleted these words from the Wordle: also, among, annual, bible, biblical, call, contact, description, e.g, first, group, meeting, one, open, paper, papers, program, programs, proposals, provide, provides, research, sbl, scholars, second, section, seek, seeks, session, studies, study, third, three, topic, topics, two, unit, within

  • Randall Short 9:30 pm on April 30, 2010 Permalink  

    The Nature of Insight 

    While reading his introduction to The Prophets (my Amazon link), I came across this statement by Abraham J. Heschel (page x in the 1969 Harper & Row paperback edition):

    Rather than blame things for being obscure, we should blame ourselves for being biased and prisoners of self-induced repetitiveness. One must forget many clichés in order to behold a single image. Insight is the beginning of perceptions to come rather than the extension of perceptions gone by. Conventional seeing, operating as it does with patterns and coherences, is a way of seeing the present in the past tense. Insight is an attempt to think in the present.
            Insight is a breakthrough, requiring much intellectual dismantling and dislocation. It begins with a mental interim, with the cultivation of a feeling for the unfamiliar, unparalleled, incredible. It is in being involved with a phenomenon, being intimately engaged to it, courting it, as it were, that after much perplexity and embarrassment we come upon insight — upon a way of seeing the phenomenon from within. Insight is accompanied by a sense of surprise. What has been closed is suddenly disclosed. It entails genuine perception, seeing anew. He who thinks that we can see the same object twice has never seen. Paradoxically, insight is knowledge at first sight.

    There are Aha! moments that seem to come with no effort. But insight of the sort that Heschel describes here, I think, is generally hard won. Even if it comes suddenly and unexpectedly — seemingly without effort — it is the result of deep reflection and struggle.

    Here’s a question I have. What role can another person — a parent, teacher, or friend, for instance — play in one’s attainment of this sort of deep insight?


    Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (second from right) marching with Martin Luther King, Jr., from Selma to Montgomery, less than an hour from where I grew up. Heschel later said, “When I marched in Selma, my feet were praying.”

    • Adam Couturier 11:10 pm on April 30, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Great quote. This semester I discovered Heschel, and I have really been enjoying him.

    • AMBurgess 5:04 am on May 1, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Wonderful quotation, Randall. A lot to ponder there.

      Here are some of my reactions, for what they’re worth.

      It seems to me that as children we have a sort of natural skill at looking at things afresh, but our lack of experience limits deeper insights. Contact with family and friends helps, but even shared experiences are too difficult to process at a young age. We understandably seek out some stability and security, or routine, as we mature, but this presses against that originial skill. The trick against boredom and apathy and road to deeper appreciation, I guess, is combining a childlike sense of curiosity with the rich resources of our experiences, original and shared. To do this, we must maintain an openness to all this around us. But this takes a lot of hard work and determination!

      As we age, our capacity for wisdom and insight increases, but our tendency to the sort of somnambulant routine Heschel describes also strengthens. The hard work of remaining open and curious grows even harder, but the benefits of that hard work yield an ever greater increase. In other words, wisdom does come with more years, but only with a determined purpose to let it be so.

    • AMBurgess 5:20 am on May 1, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I forgot to add that I obviously agree with you, Randall, that insight is hard won. And as for your question, I do think that the effects of shared experience on wisdom and insight are potentially exponential, provided again that let them be so.

    • AMBurgess 5:21 am on May 1, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      oops — last line: …that WE let them be so.

    • Randall Short 3:34 pm on May 1, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Great thoughts, Alex! Quoteworthy even!

      As a dad and teacher, in particular, the burden to help my kids and students experience insightful breakthroughs weighs rather heavily on me. Especially in school/classroom situations, the default assumption is that the teacher is the primary dispenser of knowledge and wisdom, that insights come from the sage on the stage. Maybe this expectation is stronger in Japan, where I live and teach, than in the U.S., but I’ve seen it in both places.

      I try to resist the internal and external forces that would reduce my role to the scatterer of golden nuggets I’ve discovered. To stick with the same metaphor, I see my role more as that of foreman in the mines (you could add other roles, of course, like that of the surveyor who picks the right mine to begin with). But the latter is harder work for both teacher and student. It’s a lot easier — and maybe even more intellectually satisfying in the short run — for professors to display their own discoveries in lectures and whatnot than it is to help (force?) students to do the hard work of discovering new insights for themselves. (I’m not saying that discovery can’t happen in lectures; it certainly can for some people.) And when labor in the mines seems to yield only a few measly nuggets, or none at all, the temptation to rush back to the master gold-digger’s exhibit room is strong.

      I guess my original question — What role can another person play in one’s attainment of this sort of deep insight? — is a general question that I struggle to answer in concrete situations all the time. I hope that my efforts sometimes lead to “genuine perception.” But together with my students, I experience plenty of “perplexity and embarrassment” along the way.

    • AMBurgess 6:28 am on May 2, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      So true, Randall. And the copious amounts of patience we need to be the kind of teacher or student you describe is a tough commodity in our fast-paced, results-oriented world. I think, too, of how the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth, as the Scripture says. How I’d like to know so much more, and yet I realize I am far, far too short of goodness or greatness to handle it. I need to change as I gain knowledge. How can one have wisdom without being wise? 🙂 God seems to regard the means of our discoveries as important as the ends.

      We moderns like our knowledge to be clear, categorized and comprehensive. Perhaps we want knowledge itself to be satisfactory and pleasing because we have a hard time deciding the meaning and purpose behind knowledge. So we tell ourselves and our children to color inside the lines. And we’re arrogant enough to suppose we always know where those lines even are. I think God graciously obscures our knowledge of many things so that we will faithful in our discovery of a few things, giving God thanks along the way. In other words, God doesn’t spoil us with knowledge, but lets us unwrap each gift in its due season. As parents and teachers, we should likewise try not to spoil. But you’re right. It’s hard not to.

    • AMBurgess 4:26 am on May 5, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Hey Randall, at my teacher meeting today I quoted from your great comment on mining nuggets. They were really impressed with how you depicted the art of teaching. You articulated so well the discussion we were having. I proudly stated how brilliant you are, but I missed the chance to promote your book. Sorry for that missed opportunity. 🙂

    • Randall Short 1:19 pm on May 5, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for sharing your reflections and encouraging feedback.

      It helps me, for some reason, to play around with analogies between teaching/learning and other things. I tend to do it a lot, and the little scenarios I imagine border on the absurd.

      For instance, I often humor myself by imagining a group of people approaching a sport like many approach their studies:

      Paying to play while praying they can make it through the year on the bench… Suited players watching the coach play for 55 minutes and themselves getting to play for 5… afraid/unwilling to kick hard or to block someone else’s shot… A sleeping goalie… Lack of interest or knowledge in the whereabouts of the goal in the first place…

      You get the point. Some day I want to put together some ridiculous skits using analogies like this to dramatize how we approach education.

  • Randall Short 12:00 pm on April 25, 2010 Permalink  

    The Death of Scripture and the Rise of Biblical Studies 

    This book offers a new account of the origins of biblical studies, illuminating the relation of the Bible to churchly readers, theological interpreters, academic critics, and people in between. It explains why, in an age of religious resurgence, modern biblical criticism may no longer be in a position to serve as the Bible’s disciplinary gatekeeper.

    This is how Oxford University Press describes The Death of Scripture and the Rise of Biblical Studies by Michael Legaspi (Assistant Professor of Theology at Creighton University). You can find the publisher’s full description of the book, as well as brief reviews by Gary Anderson (Notre Dame), Walter Moberly (Durham), and Jon D. Levenson (Harvard), at OUP’s website.

    I predict that Michael Legaspi’s book will quickly rise to the top of “must read” lists for people who have academic interests in the Bible. But I think it will also be highly relevant for anyone else who wonders about the many ways people approach the Bible in modern times (and postmodern times, if you like). I make these predictions not only based on the impressive endorsements Legaspi’s book is already receiving, but also based on discussions with, and presentations by, the author about parts of the book.

    And that’s why I strongly recommend this book. I’m about to place my own order here (my Amazon link).


    Johann David Michaelis’s Latin edition of Robert Lowth’s Lectures on the Sacred Poetry of the Hebrews (De sacra poesi Hebraeorum praelectiones; 1758, 1761). Among other discussions, Legaspi explains how this publication played an important role in scholars’ reconceiving “divinely inspired Scripture” as sublime literature that should be approached according to the same methods scholars used when studying classical texts from the ancient world.

    • AMBurgess 4:30 am on May 1, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I’m so excited to get my hands on this book. The unresolved tension between religious faith and academia is in need of a push forward, and I have no doubt Mike Legaspi’s book is exactly what’s called for. I also think it’ll be a perfect template for understanding all sorts of issues surrounding faith and modernity. It would be great to see a lot of colleges making it required reading.

    • Delia Guevarra 1:09 pm on June 17, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      The best book on the subject , It uncovers the past , the origins of the bible , the controversy and how it applies now . Any Theology student in the Seminary or for anyone searching for historical truth this book is amazing

  • Randall Short 12:00 am on March 27, 2010 Permalink  

    Seven Statements about Ignorance 

    Saul Bellow

    A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.* ~Saul Bellow (1915–2005)


    Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. ~Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–1968)


    Genuine ignorance is more profitable because likely to be accompanied by humility, curiosity, and open-mindedness; while ability to repeat catch-phrases, cant terms, familiar propositions, gives the conceit of learning and coats the mind with a varnish waterproof to new ideas.* ~John Dewey (1859–1952)


    The greater the ignorance the greater the dogmatism.* ~Sir William Osler (1849–1919)


    The recipe for perpetual ignorance is: Be satisfied with your opinions and content with your knowledge. ~Elbert Hubbard (1856–1915)


    To be ignorant of one’s ignorance is the malady of ignorance. ~Amos Bronson Alcott (1799–1888)


    Nothing is worse than active ignorance. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832)

  • Randall Short 1:00 am on March 16, 2010 Permalink  

    How to Write a Lot 

    My colleague and good friend, Joseph Poulshock, the editor of and professor of English Linguistics at Tokyo Christian University, loaned me How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing (Amazon), by Paul J. Silvia. It’s a good read so far (I’m only a couple of chapters into it).

    In chapter 2, the author debunks these “specious barriers to writing a lot”:

    • Lack of time
    • The need for more research
    • Lack of a good working environment
    • The need for inspiration

    Here are a few of the key points I took away from it.

    (1) Schedule your writing. Don’t try to find time to write, and don’t wait for the inspiration to hit. Instead, schedule time to write. Regularly. There are very, very few successful writers who don’t make and jealously keep appointments with themselves to write. Silvia humorously, but no doubt seriously, gives this advice (p. 15):

    If you don’t plan to make a schedule, gently close this book, clean it so it looks brand new, and give it as a gift to a friend who wants to be a better writer.

    (2) Schedule your “non-writing” writing. Let “writing” include every part of the writing process, from research to manuscript submissions. As long as you are doing something that you must do for your writing to be published, then you probably need not worry that this will become an excuse to put off the hard work of actually writing words, sentences, and paragraphs.

    The key point here is that you need to schedule the “non-writing” part of writing as much as the actual writing. And by scheduling it, too, you will free yourself from constantly wondering when you’ll “find” time for it (and from beating yourself up for not finding the time after all).


    Time Saving Truth from Falsehood and Envy (François Lemoyne, 1737)

    (3) Write first, and write free. Try morning writing appointments whether you’re a morning person or not. But whenever you schedule your writing, just do it. Don’t first check your email or your friends’ status updates. Do what you can to free yourself from online and offline distractions from start to finish. Another good line (p. 22):

    The best kind of self-control is to avoid situations that require self-control.

    Is there anything new here? If you’re any kind of a writer at all, then probably not. Then where is the value in it? Good question.

    For me, I think the benefit of reading a book like this comes primarily from acknowledging and affirming — and sometimes rejecting — certain ideas and disciplines together with Joe, who loaned me the book. Silvia’s book would still be helpful without that, but the added accountability makes it more enjoyable and effective for me.

    How about you? Any stories of writing success (or failure, for that matter) by adopting these and/or other work habits?

    • Ryan 9:06 am on September 15, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Great Advice, something that I have been doing recently too
      Basically what I is do a bit of research into my topic
      2.write non stop for 10mins, without referencing anything, just write what it in my head, If I run out of things to write then I just write “I have run out of things to write….” and surprisingly you get back on topic, it is important to not stop for 10mins, dont stop to look at the clock or anything (set a timer)
      3.the following day edit what I wrote
      4.repeat, until satisfied
      never forgetting the 80/20 rule

      英会話 長野市

  • Randall Short 5:20 pm on March 13, 2010 Permalink  

    The Surprising Election and Confirmation of King David – Summary and Keywords 

    In my first post about my new book, I posted statements by a couple of well-known and a couple of anonymous biblical scholars. For my second post, I’d like to post here the summary that Harvard University Press used in their catalog (both online and in their Spring/Summer 2010 print catalog). It’s also the summary that vendors like Eisenbrauns and Amazon picked up (with lightning speed, I might add) when HUP started promoting my book online.

    Some of the best-known biblical episodes are found in the story of David’s rise to kingship in First and Second Samuel. Why was this series of stories included in the Bible?

    An answer that has become increasingly popular is that this narrative should be interpreted as the “apology of David,” that is, the personal justification of King David against charges that he illegitimately usurped Saul’s throne. Comparisons between “the History of David’s Rise” and the Hittite “Apology of Hattušili,” in particular, appear to support this view that the biblical account belongs to the genre of ancient Near Eastern royal apology.

    Having presented this approach, Randall Short argues that the biblical account has less in common with the Hittite apology than scholars have asserted, and he demonstrates how interpretive assumptions about the historical reality behind the text inform the meaning that these scholars discern in the text. His central contention is that this story should not be interpreted as the personal exoneration of David composed to win over suspicious readers. Rather, composed for faithful readers represented by David, the story depicts the dramatic confirmation of David’s surprising election through his gradual emergence as the beloved son of Jesse, Saul, all Israel, and YHWH Himself.


    The main purpose of a summary in a print catalog, of course, is to give readers a good idea of what the book is about. But online summaries have a purpose that is equally important. They draw people who are running searches on the key words and phrases to the website and let them know about the book in the first place.

    I would love to see what search strings bring people to my book’s site at Harvard University Press, Amazon, and the like. One problem with summaries, though, is that they don’t include — and can’t include without becoming nearly unreadable — many of the key terms and phrases that a lot of people among my intended readers are likely to be Googling and Binging.

    So, in the interests of reaching as wide an audience as possible, and hoping that you won’t be disappointed if your online search of any of the below terms brought you here, I offer a mini-index of keywords and phrases that somehow relate to my book. This, too, is rather limited, but I hope it’s skim-worthy and, more importantly, search-worthy.


    Interested in Any of the Following? Then please check out The Surprising Election and Confirmation of King David:

    Biblical figures and themes: King David, King Saul, the Prophet Samuel, Davidic Covenant, David’s Anointing, Divine Election, Divine Rejection, Davidic King and Kingdom, Kingship in Israel and Judah

    Texts and corpuses: Books of Samuel, Historical Books of the Bible, the Former Prophets, Nevi’im, Nebi’im, Historical Psalms, Tanakh, Masoretic Text (MT), Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS), Hebrew Bible, Old Testament; Samuel Commentary

    Critical sources, extra-biblical texts, etc.: History of David’s Rise (HDR), Apology of David, Ancient Israelite Royal Propaganda, Apology of Hattusili, Apology of Hattushilish, Hittite Empire, Ancient Near Eastern Apologies, ANE, Deuteronomist, Deuteronomistic, Dtr, Original Context, Final Form

    Modern Scholarly Approaches: Historical Critical Scholarship, Historical Criticism, Source Criticism, Redactional Criticism, Rhetorical Criticism, Ideological Criticism, Tradition Criticism, Canonical Criticism, Literary Criticism, Comparative Criticism, Theological Interpretation, Biblical Interpretation, Biblical Exegesis

    Scholars and works: P. Kyle McCarter, “The Apology of David” (JBL), and I Samuel (Anchor Bible); Baruch Halpern, David’s Secret Demons: Messiah, Murderer, Traitor, King; Steven L. McKenzie, King David: A Biography; James W. Flanagan, David’s Social Drama: A Hologram of Israel’s Early Iron Age; Harry A. Hoffner, “Propaganda and Political Justification in Hittite Historiography.”

    • Ed Gentry 10:41 pm on March 13, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Congratulations Randall. Well done. So yet another to add to my list of books to read.

    • Randall Short 11:36 am on March 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks, Ed! It’ll be an honor to be on an old friend’s reading list!

    • AMBurgess 4:36 am on May 1, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I’m going to have to order this book, Randall. It looks great.

  • Randall Short 3:15 pm on February 27, 2010 Permalink  

    What They’re Already Saying About My Book 

    I’ve thought about things I can do to build some anticipation around the launching of my first book, The Surprising Election and Confirmation of King David (Harvard Theological Studies). It won’t be out until May, so I have a few months to go. For instance, I could have a lot of fun making a book trailer, and a trailer for a dissertation-turned-into-book might even create some buzz. But I’m afraid I don’t have the right set of skills to pull it off.


    I’ll start, instead, by letting others speak for me. The fact is, very few people have read my book so far — it’s not out yet, after all. But I’m happy to say that the people who’ve read it are experts about these things, and they had some very positive and encouraging things to say.

    Jon D. Levenson was my doctoral advisor at Harvard Divinity School. According to this most trustworthy source that professors just love for their students to cite, he is “the most interesting and incisive biblical exegete among contemporary Jewish thinkers.” Professor Levenson had this to say about my book:

    This provocative and well-reasoned interpretation of David’s rise to kingship challenges the standard political reading of the narrative and impressively recovers its key theological dimensions. By refusing to assimilate the text to its putative ancient Near Eastern parallels, Randall Short enriches our understanding of an exceedingly subtle and complex narrative in a valuable way. This volume should command the attention of scholars, students, and clergy alike.

    Recent books by my doctoral advisors
    resurrection-levenson.jpg sin-anderson.jpg
    Resurrection and the Restoration of Israel by Jon D. Levenson
    and Sin: A History by Gary A. Anderson

    Gary A. Anderson was also my advisor at Harvard until he moved to the University of Notre Dame. But even after his move, he continued to advise me by serving on my dissertation committee. At some point I expect the above-cited source to describe him as “the most interesting and incisive biblical exegete among contemporary Catholic thinkers” (he’s a little younger than Prof. Levenson, so give it time). Professor Anderson offered this statement:

    It is not frequent that a book comes along and proposes a bold new approach to a problem that was once thought to be solved. Short’s bold and deftly argued thesis about the founding of the Davidic Kingdom is going to mark a new direction for the exegesis of I and II Samuel.

    I’m indebted to and grateful for these men, and I’m deeply honored to have them evaluate my work so highly.

    Let me share comments about my work by two more scholars. I don’t know their names because the comments were from two anonymous reviewers of my manuscript at an early stage in Harvard Theological Studies’ review process. The below statements came to me along with several constructive criticisms that helped me to make a number of improvements.

    One reviewer said this about my manuscript in general:

    [Short’s book] has a clear and important thesis to put forward on an important text and issue in Hebrew Biblical studies, and everything, so far as I can see, is very well arranged around the definition, exposition, and substantiation of this thesis, in a style that is lucid, direct, and precise: few, if any solecisms or baroque formulations typical of dissertations. It makes its case by a serious critique of one standard view of the History of David’s Rise (HDR), and then by a penetrating, closely observed analysis of facets of the literary techniques and themes of the HDR . . .

    And another reviewer said this about my chapters 4 and 5:

    I have found his analyses of the individual verses to be detailed and reasonable. The impression that Short’s text gives is that he attends to the interpretation of individual verses or texts with great care.

    Andover Hall, Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts

    I don’t mean to imply that my advisors and reviewers agree with me about every position I take. That is certainly not the case, but no one who knows the field of biblical studies would expect it to be.

    I am extremely pleased, though, that these scholars all agree on this point: You’ll benefit from reading my book if you have any interest in Samuel’s account of David’s rise to kingship in particular and/or modern biblical scholarship in general.

    • Ken Brown 3:56 am on March 2, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      That’s great news indeed. Congrats!

      (BTW, I love that the social media buttons on your posts say “Share and Enjoy”; I just hope they work better than a typical Sirius Cybernetics Corporation product!)

    • Randall Short 10:10 am on March 2, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you!

      I’m a bit embarrassed to say that I haven’t tested the social media buttons here. If they weren’t there by default, I must have turned them on and left it at that. I just switched on a few more buttons, including one for Twitter; I’ll test the ones I can (I don’t use most of them).

    • Nathan 12:25 pm on March 10, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I assume you’re putting Cambridge on the book tour…

    • Randall Short 9:45 pm on March 10, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Now that would be nice. Unfortunately no plans just yet. But I’ll try to schedule it when I hear from one of the big talk shows offering to cover my international travel expenses…

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