September 29, 2011
Spicing Up the ATA
In the book industry we call it the ata, “about the author,” the little blurb on the dust jacket (or in the catalog or on the website) that gives a snapshot of the author’s life or some relevant portion thereof. Academic ata’s are the most predictable and dry of the ata’s. They basically try to establish the academic creds of the author—“got her PhD there, teaches here, has written this and that.” It feels transgressive to go beyond that—“has ten kids, drives a cobalt blue BMW, roots for the Bears”—conventional wisdom says that kind of stuff would diminish the stature of the author. We couldn’t take the author seriously.
But maybe expectations have changed in this day of Facebook and tweeting and all. Shouldn’t we be prying open a little slit in the fence around the academic author’s life? There’d be risk in this—some of our readers might get the wrong idea when they learned the author likes to sip bourbon while playing poker. But who knows? Maybe we’d gain more readers than we’d lose.
In our publishing house, it’s the editor who generally writes the ata. And the editor doesn’t want to stick his or her neck out by being overly creative with the ata. We might embarrass the author and lose the opportunity to publish their next book.
Posted by Dan Reid at 11:16 AM
September 22, 2011
Gimme an R! Gimme a C! Gimme an S! What's It All About?
I have before me the handsome first volume of the Reformation Commentary on Scripture, brought to us under the general editorship of Timothy George. This volume is on Galatians and Ephesians and is edited by Gerald Bray. It is numbered 10 in the New Testament series. All told, with the thirteen volumes on the Old Testament and fifteen on the New Testament, there will be twenty-eight volumes. Galatians and Ephesians is a great pair of books to start off this series!
When we first proposed this series as a worthy successor to the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, some met the idea with understandable caution: “Don’t we have Calvin’s and Luther’s commentaries?”Continue reading "Gimme an R! Gimme a C! Gimme an S! What's It All About?"
Posted by Dan Reid at 1:28 PM
September 15, 2011
Scribes Have Culture, Authors . . . Not So Much
I’ve been revisiting some books on ancient scribal and literary production—books like David M. Carr’s Writing on the Tablet of the Heart, Karel van der Toorn’s Scribal Culture and the Making of the Hebrew Bible and William Schniedewind’s How the Bible Became a Book. It’s become clear that in thinking about “publishing” texts in the ancient Near East in general we need to clear away some modern conceptions of authors and editors and recast others. So if authors and editors want to have A Year of Living Biblically (or maybe Babylonially), here’s how it’s going to look:Continue reading "Scribes Have Culture, Authors . . . Not So Much"
September 9, 2011
The 2111 Paper Book Festival
This weekend I will again attend the annual Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival (in Port Townsend, Washington), the finest of its kind on the West Coast, if not in the world. And on Sunday I’ll be starting to teach an adult Sunday school class on How We Got the Bible, in honor of the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. So I’ve been reading up again on ancient book culture and the history of Bible translation. This reminded me of a blog I did two years ago, which I’ve refurbished for today.
The Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival is a grand celebration of an old technology and traditional material—wood. Which is to say, it’s a celebration of boats with wooden hulls rather than the now prevalent fiberglass, or “plastic,” which began to make its appearance in the 1960s and now dominates recreational boat building. It’s a celebration of boats made in the old way and the retrieval of skills nearly lost to newer technology.
The festival includes new wooden boats, evidence of the resurrection of this tradition. But most of them are old, many of them beautiful specimens in “bristol” condition and top working order (testimony to a passion calling for boundless patience, sweat and money). And most of them are sailing vessels, from sailing dinghies to magnificent schooners. The tradesmen who are maintaining this craft of building and repairing wooden boats—many of them in or around Port Townsend—are present, giving demonstrations and seminars and advertising their services. There are sailboat races, musicians performing nautical tunes, “pirates” wandering the grounds and a swelling tide of tall nautical tales being exchanged.
This set me to imagining a day—say, one hundred years hence—when people gather for an annual Paper Book Festival.Continue reading "The 2111 Paper Book Festival"
Posted by Dan Reid at 8:46 AM