August 2, 2014
Yesterday I took my in-laws on a trip to the nearby Alps (they are with us celebrating the birth of our second daughter). We planned to spend the day at the lake taking pictures and hopping off the boat to explore the alpine forests. As we arrived, however, we were immediately disappointed to learn that there were no boat rides available because of high water. So, we decided instead to hike as far as possible alongside the shore of the lake. Now, this is not an easy task when such a hike involves two seniors, their bulky photography equipment, and a three-year-old. We ventured far enough to find a swimming hole: nothing is quite as exhilarating as jumping into crystal clear mountain water that is so clean you can drink it!
Then my mother and I got a brilliant idea: “Let’s rent a row-boat!” To our delight, we could rent a rowboat for the entire afternoon. After two hours of rowing, however, I was just about shot–blisters on my hands, sore back, etc.
When we returned safely to shore, it was time to begin the next part of our journey: we wanted to explore a beautiful but out-of-the-way photo spot called St. Sebastian Kirche in the small town of Ramsau. We were not disappointed:
Although the towering mountains behind the church are hidden by the thick fog, this scene is still inviting. And as we were just about to leave, a German couple in traditional Bavarian Tracht walked by and eagerly posed for a picture. To our delight, they invited us to join them for a Lichterabend festival.
The final two videos give a glimpse of (1) the esteemed mayor of Ramsau, and (2) one of the Blaskapellen that serenaded the guests:
March 25, 2014
Where does one begin a blog post after taking a six month break? With an explanation? An apology? A massive update?
How about with Berlin, since that was the topic of my last post. Tomorrow I am being flown to Berlin in order to meet with my professor, another professor, and De Gruyter publishers. We will discuss a forthcoming project. As my professor’s assistant, I am tasked with translating two seminal works about NT lexicography from Spanish into English. What follows is a summary of how this came about.
Our first year hear in Munich was coming to a close. I was trying not to grow anxious about my scholarship ending–I had not found a new source of funding despite several applications. But around August, all of that changed.
- I found out that I was accepted as an online instructor at Liberty University and would begin my first class in September.
- Then I was asked to serve as the academic tutor at our living residence in Munich.
- As if that weren’t enough, my professor asked if I would consider working as his assistant on a small scale beginning in September, and then on a larger scale in April.
- On top of this, I had already signed an agreement to publish a 50 page article on Bultmann.
- Lastly, I was completing an editing project with de Gruyter about Pneuma.
Needless to say, funding was no longer the problem. Now the challenge was finding time to complete all my responsibilities (oh, did I mention that I am writing my dissertation).
My professor had hinted about the possibility of working as his assistant. I had known about this since arriving in Germany, and I discovered that I would translate two Spanish books. My four years of High-school Spanish needed lots of refreshing, so I spent a lot of time in the past year working through grammars, listening to Spanish podcasts, and reading Spanish texts.
Hence, my six month silence. All of my various tasks and responsibilities are completed, my Spanish is in great shape, and I will be in Berlin again in the morning. More importantly, I have learned the value of saying “no,” even to good opportunities. One gets so busy that it becomes impossible to do things well.
I am being quite deliberate now with my time and schedule. Starting in April, I will just be working with my professor and writing my dissertation, which will hopefully give me some time to enjoy blogging more regularly.
My three-year old daughter began kindergarten in January. She spends four hours a day with her new friends. At first this was a big change for her, especially because she is immersed in the German language. But she is having a ball now and is learning the language very quickly.
Thanks to my jobs (mentioned above) my family was able to switch from private insurance to public insurance. We pay a minimal monthly amount, and all medical expenses are covered. Medicine, doctor’s visits, everything. I am a big fan of this medical system; it makes the American medical system and the new Obamacare seem quite comical.
In order to drive our car, we needed to pass a written test covering all the driving rules and regulations in Germany. Now we are well informed about environmentally friendly driving, how to tow a trailer in Germany, and even about migrating frogs (see picture). I will be taking my test in German on April 8. Here is a sample question for you: Vor einem Bahnübergang steht vor einer von rechts einmündenden Straße ein rot leuchtendes Lichtzeichen ohne Andreaskreuz. Wo müssen Sie warten? (“There is a light signal with the red light on and no St. Andrew’s Cross before a level crossing before a road joining from the right. Where do you have to wait?”)
And if you are a really astute reader, you may have suspected the next bit of news I’m about to share with you. Having told you about my job, our insurance, our car, we are now feeling prepared for . . . the baby girl we will be having in July! Arabella Rose Bowden is due on July 24th.
On a personal note, I turned 30 years old this month. On my birthday I reflected on these words from Ben Hur: “A man thirty years old should have his fields of life all plowed and his planting well done; for after that, it is summertime, with space scarce enough to ripen his sowing” (Ben Hur, 278).
TRAVELS, FRIENDS, AND FAMILY
In addition to our Berlin travels, we have been able to make some other trips. We visited new friends in Straßburg, France. You can read about our time HERE. Being around believing friends who are our age, have a child, speak English, and are living in a European city was quite a blessing. I particularly was blessed by Matt, who is memorizing large portions of the Greek New Testament. That is something I want to do more regularly.
Last week my cousin Nathaniel and his wife Julie visited us. One of our highlights was hiking on a trail above Neuschwanstein.
We had so much fun with them (Nathaniel and I are cousins. We are just a few months apart in age and have always been best friends). The nice thing about having family and friends visit us is that we do things we would not otherwise have done. Please come see us again soon guys!
There are two other big trips that we are looking forward to. In April we will travel to Prague, and in May to Paris (Lord willing).
Well, I think that is all for now. I look forward to continuing to keep in touch with you all, whether through blogging, facebook, or face-to-face if you get the chance to visit us in Munich.
September 28, 2013
We are back from the bustling metropolis of Berlin. Although we were in the city for five days, I feel like we did not even scratch the surface of this international city. According to my doktorvater, the only real way to experience Berlin is to live there, which refers to the layers of cultural and historical features. And speaking of scratching the surface:
I would not be accurately describing the city if I failed to mention the endless construction and cranes. There was so much construction it was comical (this picture does not do it justice). We international students joke with each other about the construction in Germany: whether one is in Munich or Berlin or any Germany city, one finds construction zones. This stems from several features. First, it is a sign of the German economy, which is booming. There is money for bigger and better and newer. There is no such thing as a recession over here and the unemployment rate, for example, hovers nationally around 5%. Buildings are constantly being renovated, streets are being repaired, and workers enjoy incredible benefits and vacations. Second, the construction reflects a German concern for things to be well taken care of. Third, the endless construction is in no way related to an inordinate lengthy time period or delays in competing projects.
One example of the construction shows what I’m trying to say. Recently the Subway line near our apartment was renovated. Shortly thereafter, a seemingly nice square in front of this station was completely remodeled. Then one day on our way to the subway, what had been a perfectly fine looking apartment complex had been torn down, and within a matter of days another was being constructed in its place. In come the cranes. Later that week on our way to the Subway again, there were now two other buildings on the same street undergoing renovation, hence more cranes and scaffolding. So now the joke is that one German sees another beginning a construction project and says, “Quick, our neighbors are renovating. Let’s build something too!”
This is the inside of the Reichstag, where the famous glass dome is also situated. We heard a lecture here, which was one of the highlights of the trip for me. I am still trying to get a feel of German politics. The system is so different, and I think better, than in the US. Being in the Reichstag was particularly interesting in light of the elections that took place this month in Germany.
We had a great trip but there is no place quite like home–we are glad to be back in Munich!
September 22, 2013
After a grueling summer, my friend Seth and I decided to unwind by taking a hike in the alps.
One of the things I enjoyed about this hike was all the alms along the way. These alms are scattered all along the trails so that hikers do not need to bring all their own supplies, but can rather stop for snacks and drinks, or even spend the night in a guest room (which we did).
Another amazing view. The most amazing part is that Seth is sitting on the very edge of the cliff, looking down across the valley (you can just barely see a little dot on the edge of the cliff–that is him)
This is where we took the wrong turn, which led to us getting waaay off track. It turns out that instead of staying in this nice green valley, we were supposed to climb the ridge (seen in the upper left corner of the picture). A sign or a trail would have been really helpful!
September 21, 2013
September 20, 2013
During my time in Germany, I’m trying to read my fair share of German theologians. I enjoyed this quote by Bultmann:
Humanistic education does not at all pretend to have a direct and practical meaning for life, but rather is based on the view that the spiritual world transcends practical needs and has its own autonomous value for man. Humanistic education shapes the spiritual universe and furnishes man with a richness, a joy, and a happiness beyond the fulfillment of practical needs. This education forms character, shapes the person (Bultmann, “Humanismus und Christentum,” 1948).
There’s something about reading German theologians on German soil that makes it that much more interesting. I doubt, however, that I will have much of a chance to read this next week, since we are going to the Oktoberfest parade tomorrow morning, and then leave on an academic trip on Monday. The Destination? Berlin and Jena. Life is ruff.
August 2, 2013
Greetings after a long and unexpected blogging pause (it’s been two months since my last post). As you may have deduced from one of my previous posts about my summer schedule, I have been swamped. In addition to preparing my four papers for conferences this summer, we hosted my family from the US for a month. Our time with them was wonderful and busy: we not only showed them around Munich and Germany, but we also trekked to Venice. I have also been to Scotland and back. To enjoy the time with my family, I did very little school work and absolutely no blogging. All of this to say, hello, I’m still here (although sometimes sporadically).
June 3, 2013
Letters to the Church: A Survey of Hebrews and the General Epistles. Karen H. Jobes. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011, xvi + 478 pp., $44.99, hardcover.
Karen Jobes is professor of NT Greek and Exegesis at Wheaton College. Some of her previous publications include commentaries on Esther (Zondervan, 1999) and 1 Peter (Baker, 2005), as well as the popular Invitation to the Septuagint (Baker, 2000).
This work is intended for those studying the General Epistles for the first time. Matters are kept simple and to the point. Chapters conclude with recommended readings that offer helpful sources for further study. Information is organized by headings and subsections and each chapter contains outlines and summaries. Charts and pictures are abundant throughout. Challenging words and concepts are written in bold, indicating that they are defined in a special section in the back of the book. These various features enable Jobes to deliver a highly readable and inviting survey for readers of the General Epistles.
The book contains four main sections: (1) Hebrews, (2) letters from Jesus’ brothers, (3) letters from Peter, and (4) letters from John. Within each of these sections there are chapters introducing the epistles and highlighting their key points, such as audience, author, date, purpose, etc. Additional chapters are devoted to Hebrews, James, and 1 Peter—each containing chapters focusing on Christology and other key issues.
One of the book’s many strengths is the years of research and teaching that Jobes has devoted to the General Epistles. For example, Jobes is able to draw upon her commentaries on 1 Peter (Baker, 2005) and the Johannine Epistles (Grand Rapids, forthcoming), not to mention her numerous articles and essays. As a result, the reader benefits from Jobes’s years of seasoned reflection on these Epistles.
Another strength is Jobes’s attentiveness to the many times these epistles rely on the OT. Jobes devotes an entire chapter to this topic in Hebrews (pp. 57–77), a large section in James (pp. 203–11). In her discussion of Jude, Jobes insightfully explains Jude’s allusions to the Hebrew OT, rather than the Greek LXX (pp. 251–52). Elsewhere, Jobes sheds light on important yet often overlooked OT allusions (e.g., see her discussion on the allusion in James 3 to Hosea 14, pp. 207–08).
Despite the book’s many strengths, one weakness was apparent, and it related to the book’s numerous pictures. Pictures can be quite helpful in an introductory survey, and several were helpful in the present work, such as the maps and pictures of ancient papyri. Many, however, seemed out of place and redundant. In the discussion of Peter’s theology of suffering there are two large pictures of footprints (pp. 287, 346). In two separate discussions about the Torah there are large, modernized pictures of the Ten Commandments (pp. 74, 207). There are also two identical pictures of the Rylands fragment (pp. 9, 407). Pictures were not only redundant, but in many places unnecessary, such as the huge chart displaying 2 Peter’s steps to maturity (p. 376), or the cartoon image of animals prescribed in the OT for sacrifice (p. 95). Furthermore, there are numerous paintings of biblical characters and events that do little to illumine the content of the text. While the pictures do not detract from the book’s content, they do little to enhance it while at the same time burdening the length by at least 100 extra pages.
One surprising omission was a discussion regarding the possible coherence and theology of the General Epistles. This is a topic that is receiving increasing attention by scholars of the General Epistles (see, e.g., Robert Wall’s essay in Catholic Epistles and Apostolic Tradition, Baylor Press, 2009). Jobes does a commendable job interacting with the theology of the individual books, but her text could have been enhanced by including a chapter that considered these epistles from a broader view, perhaps considering their overarching theme or their unique contributions and distinctives.
Teachers and professors will find Jobes’s work useful in the classroom. Other works that might be comparable to Jobes’s include Donelson’s From Hebrews to Revelation (Westminster John Knox, 2001), Harner’s What are They Saying about the Catholic Epistles? (Paulist, 2004), and Chester and Martin’s The Theology of James, Peter, and Jude (Cambridge, 1994). Jobes’s survey is an ideal introduction for a college course on the General Epistles—the student will not only be equipped with a solid grasp of each letter’s background issues but also with the content and theology of these important New Testament writings.