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<< Return to SBL Forum Archive Online Bibliography for Studying Paul’s Use of Scripture

Christopher D. Stanley and Kent Smith

Scholars who wish to study the apostle Paul’s use of Scripture have a relatively new resource available to aid them in their research—an online bibliography. The bibliography was created under the auspices of the SBL’s “Paul and Scripture Seminar,” which has been meeting since 2005. The seminar provides a forum for a group of Pauline scholars to examine, debate, and work toward the resolution of a series of methodological problems that have arisen in recent years concerning the way the apostle Paul interpreted and applied the Jewish Scriptures.

The bibliography is the brainchild of Rev. Kent Smith, a Presbyterian minister who attended the inaugural sessions of the seminar in 2005. Smith has a longstanding interest in Paul’s engagement with Scripture, and he was convinced that an online bibliography would be a major boon to scholarly research in this area. He raised the issue with Christopher Stanley, the chair of the seminar, who agreed with him on the potential value of such a database.

Creating the bibliography proved to be more difficult and time-consuming than was originally anticipated. Smith envisioned the bibliography as a collaborative project that would be maintained by interested scholars who would register the titles of books and articles directly into the database without the need for an overseer or moderator. This approach would ensure that the bibliography would not be dependent on the services and interests of any one individual. A Wiki format seemed the best way to achieve this end. But setting up a Wiki system that would be both user-friendly and secure required more technical expertise than either Smith or Stanley possessed.

Fortunately, one of the seminar members, Bruce Fisk of Westmont College, was able to get his college not only to host the database on one of its computers but also to provide technical assistance with the creation of the bibliography. Without this assistance, the bibliography might have been stillborn.

Further problems arose when the time came to enter materials into the database. Kent Smith spend many hours working out the bugs in the system and developing a system of data entry that would be flexible enough to allow for the many variations that can occur in the publication data of books and articles while also being accessible to ordinary users. Similar difficulties attended the development of a suitable search mechanism for the bibliography.

Finally, the data had to be gathered, collated, and entered into the system. Smith and Stanley did much of the work, with substantial help from student assistants whose labors required a significant amount of editing. A few other scholars submitted bibliographic data for inclusion in the database, but they did not assist with the actual cataloguing of the entries. The data-entry and editing process took over a year.

The bibliography is now available at http://paulandscripturebibliography.blogspot.com. On this page, users can find instructions explaining how to view and search the database, which currently has over 350 listings. The search engine is fairly robust, allowing users to perform searches using virtually any combination of bibliographic data (author, keyword in title, etc.). The system also allows users to save their search results in a personalized bibliography that can be accessed at any time. At this point, it is not possible to search by keyword except for words that appear in titles. This feature can be added later if volunteers come forward to assist with identifying and entering subject keywords into the database.

The bibliography remains a work in progress. Scholars (including graduate students) who would be willing to assist with the development of the database should contact Kent Smith at kent@westside.org. Areas where help is needed include locating and entering additional titles, adding keywords and categories to existing entries, and writing short abstracts for the various books and articles in the database. A responsible student worker could do some of these tasks if anyone has students who are looking for work-study opportunities. Volunteers will receive a user login that allows them to work on the database at their own convenience. Users who simply wish to search the database do not require a login.

In addition to the online bibliography, the “Paul and Scripture Seminar” maintains a blog page (http://www.paulandscripture.blogspot.com) that functions primarily as a repository for the papers that are presented each year in the seminar, including both abstracts and full papers for this year’s seminar. The SBL published the first three years’ papers in 2008 under the title As It Is Written: Studying Paul’s Use of Scripture (ed. Stanley E. Porter and Christopher D. Stanley). Also included in this volume are several new essays that the editors commissioned in order to provide a broad overview of recent scholarly debates over Paul’s use of Scripture. Bruce Fisk of Westmont College moderates the blog page and would like to see the page develop into an active forum for the discussion of issues pertaining to the scholarly study of Paul’s engagement with the language and ideas of Scripture. He may be contacted at fisk@westmont.edu.

Sessions in New Orleans

22-233a Paul and Scripture

1:00 PM to 3:30 PM

11/22/2009

Oak Alley

Beyond the Hauptbriefe

Christopher D. Stanley, St. Bonaventure University, Presiding

E. Elizabeth Johnson, Columbia Theological Seminary

Paul's Reliance on Scripture in 1 Thessalonians (10 min)

Discussion (60 min)

Break (10 min)

Stephen E. Fowl, Loyola College in Maryland

The Use of Scripture in Philippians: How Deep Should We Dig? (10 min)

Discussion (60 min)

Papers will be summarized, not read. Papers will be posted in advance on the seminar’s website at http://www.paulandscripture.blogspot.com

23-327a Paul and Scripture

4:00 PM to 6:30 PM

11/23/2009

Oak Alley

The Disputed Paulines

Christopher D. Stanley, St. Bonaventure University, Presiding

Jerry L. Sumney, Lexington Theological Seminary

Writing “In the Image” of Scripture: The Form and Function of Allusions to Scripture in Colossians (10 min)

Discussion (60 min)

Break (10 min)

Gordon D. Fee, Regent College

God`s Sure Foundation: "Paul`s" Use of Scripture in 2 Timothy (10 min)

Discussion (60 min)

Papers will be summarized, not read. Papers will be posted in advance on the seminar’s website at http://www.paulandscripture.blogspot.com .

Christopher D. Stanley, St. Bonaventure University

Kent Smith, Westside Presbyterian Church, Ridgewood, NJ

 
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