Category Archives: Blogging

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I won the Norman E. Wagner Award!

I was recently attending the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies (my favourite academic society) in Montreal. I was very happy to win the CSBS’s Norman E. Wagner award for the innovative use of technology relating to biblical scholarship (you can read more about the award here).  This was awarded for my work here on my websites, including my podcast.

P.S. The award money disappeared quite quickly (that’s what happens when you say “Beer’s on me!” as your official acceptance speech).

Podcasts will continue – breath not wasted

Well, my uncertainty as to whether or not anyone would actually listen to my podcasts on Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean (mainly early Christianity) is dispelled. The number of subscribers to my bi-weekly podcast is now over 200 within just two months (mainly through iTunes). This crawls towards the number of subscribers to my blog itself (in the low 300s), which has been around for years. I can say that the podcasts will indeed continue. I’m glad my breath is not wasted.

You can subscribe to my podcast with a podcatcher (like iTunes).

I’m back – let the blogging begin (again)

After a long absence which I will not bother to explain — except to apologize, I will once again begin posting to the blog. And you thought it was dead. (It’s a sad state of affairs when one loses one’s near pole position on the NTGateway blogroll).

This year I am teaching the “Founders of Christianity” course (click for course outline) at York University, which is an introduction to early Christian writings. So many of my posts may relate to that course. As to research, I’m still working on immigrant groups in the Greco-Roman world and religion and travel, so those will come up as well.

An early modern history blog, and the value of blogging for research

As we move our way from medieval to early modern Christianity in one of my classes, I thought I’d mention an interesting blog that focusses on the early modern period (though not on Christianity specifically). Sharon Howard (post-doctoral fellow at the U. of Wales), who also hosts the Early Modern Resources site, has her blog on Early Modern Notes.

In a recent post she discusses why she blogs as an academic, as well as the value of blogging for research (much of which rings true to me). She writes, in part,

Blogging research lets you develop the very first drafts of ideas. Bits and pieces that don’t yet amount to articles (or even conference papers), but they may well do some day. And something else, sometimes: last year I was having trouble thinking up any new ideas at all, but blogging old ideas, often attached to new sources, meant that I kept writing, if only a few hundred words a week, without having to worry about it being original or impressive. And now, because it’s all archived and easy to find, I can look back over some of that work and see potential themes, little seeds of ideas that are worth working on, start to make them grow. . . Another thing: writing for a slightly different audience than in the usual academic contexts. This is an amazing opportunity to reach out.”

I also really enjoy the broader audience thing.

UPDATE: Jim Davila and Instapundit point to an online article in the Chronicle of Higher Education on academic blogging.

Among other things, the author of the article, Henry Farrell, notes that perhaps the majority of academic bloggers “see blogging as an extension of their academic personas. Their blogs allow them not only to express personal views but also to debate ideas, swap views about their disciplines, and connect to a wider public. For these academics, blogging isn’t a hobby; it’s an integral part of their scholarly identity. They may very well be the wave of the future.”

I was recently interviewed for an article, “Academics take up blogging,” in our local Thursday Report here at Concordia U, where you can see some of my basic thoughts on academic blogging.

Readers around the world

It’s nice to see the counter for this blog go beyond the 5000 visitor mark (since May 2005, ranging from about 50-70 per day recently). My main website is approaching 60,000 since June 2003 (ranging from about 70-100 per day these days). It is even more rewarding to see the range of readers from across the world. In the past few days, for instance, there were visitors from: Indonesia, Philippines, Australia, Japan, China, Iran, Israel, Turkey, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Romania, Slovenia, Ukraine, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, United Kingdom, and, of course, a good number of readers from United States and good ol’ Canada (“I am Canadian!”). One of the most rewarding things about a blog and a website is that you can share what you’re learning with people around the world with whom you would not otherwise have any contact! This really makes it all seem worthwhile. Thanks for coming!

UPDATE (Dec 2005): As I have switched to WordPress, I have lost that good ol’ detailed counter. Oh well

Welcome to Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean blog!

This blog on the religions of the Roman empire and the social history of Christianity serves two main purposes. On the one hand, it will provide an opportunity for me to share interesting (to me and hopefully to you) things I encounter in my research (I am an assistant professor in the Religion department at Concordia University in Montreal). My own interests focus on archeological and epigraphic (inscriptions) evidence for small groups or associations in the Roman empire and on comparing groups of various kinds (Jewish, Christian, and “pagan”) from a social historical perspective. More recently I have also focused attention on the intersection of travel and religion in antiquity (e.g. pilgrimage, ethnography, immigrant groups). On the other hand, this blog will offer a venue for interactions with students on topics addressed in my courses, which include courses not only on ancient religions but also on the history of Christianity generally.
There are already excellent blogs by academics (us university types) in related areas, including Mark Goodacre’s New Testament Gateway blog, Stephen Carlson’s Hypotyposeis, Jim Davila’s Paleojudaica, Torrey Seland’s Philo of Alexandria blog, David Meadows’ Rogueclassicism, and others. I will consciously avoid covering the ground that is so well covered in those blogs and will concentrate most on issues specific to my own research or on issues raised by my students (both undergrads and graduate students). I plan to make posts about 2 or 3 times a week, but this may change if blog-addiction sets in. I’ll have to come up with something more interesting than this bland introduction soon. Come again.