What I’m doing these days

I’ve not posted in quite some time, so I figured it might be a good thing to post what I’ve been doing these past few months. Quite a few things have changed.

First, I got married to a wonderful woman (Brianna) on May 13 of this year. (Maybe that’s my excuse for not blogging!). We have both loved marriage thus far. I’ve learned much already, and it’s hardly been four months!

In the Spring, I began working with my Religious Studies professor, Dr William Adler, on a text called the Palaea Historica. This is a 9-10th century Greek text that retells the Old Testament from Adam up to Daniel. It’s full of extra-biblical material, and a fascinating story! Just a small example: it has a large, expanded account of Melchizedek and Abraham. Instead of a priest-king, Melchizedek is a monastic figure! A Greek edition of this work was published in 1893 by a Russian named Vasiliev under the name Anecdota Byzantina Graeca. However, Vasiliev only used 2 manuscripts, and we’ve been able to locate 12-13. Dr. Adler is currently working on a proper critical edition of the text, and I’ve been able to help some. I’ve been getting to learn how to read ancient Greek manuscripts, and also trying to put my computer skills to good use. I’ve also been working on a web-app that will show differences between manuscripts, using the collateX engine. This, of course, requires transcriptions to be done of each manuscript, which we’ve been working on slowly. I haven’t done much with this over the Summer, but I’m currently looking at ways to statistically group the manuscripts into families. So far I’ve seen some potentially helpful methods here.

Over the Summer, I didn’t do much academic. I worked full-time at IBM and spent time with my wife. We watched a lot of Star Trek: Voyager. I’ve never been a trekkie, but my wife’s a fan and we’ve enjoyed watching it together. The one academic item I did do was take the GRE. I studied for a few weeks, and I was very pleased with my scores. My wife was very helpful during the process. She helped me learn the monstrous 3000+ word list in the Barron’s GRE book! There was only one word I didn’t recognize on the GRE: hangdog. (yes, I’ve already forgotten what it means, something like guilty if I recall correctly).

This fall, I’m entering the final year of my undergraduate degree. I’m currently taking two computer science classes, a technical writing class, and two French literature classes. I’m really enjoying the French lit classes. I’m also happy that I’ll have my French minor done after this semester. Going forward, I plan to start applying to graduate schools soon. I’m hoping to do a masters at Duke (probably an MTS, maybe an MA), and then apply for PhD programs. I’d really like to do my doctorate in Europe, probably at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium. I’d be able to do a critical edition, which is not generally allowed in US programs. Plus I’d get to live in Europe and speak French! What’s not to love… ;-). I also really like the work going on at University of Birmingham. They’re doing some fantastic work developing software for editing and publishing scholarly texts. This would be a great fit for me, since I’m a software developer in addition to being a budding Patristics scholar. Unfortunately, studying in the UK is quite expensive for Americans, so I’d have to track down some pretty good scholarships!

So, in the mean time I’m trying to keep up with school, work, Chi Alpha (church), family, and then squeeze in time for languages. I’ve started studying Latin again, and am also working (a bit too slowly) through April Wilson’s German Quickly. That’s in addition to the Greek I do on almost a daily basis, and the French for my literature classes! Fortunately I like languages, but it’s still a stretch. Κυριε, ελεησον με!

Αλεξανδρος.

I’m back

It’s been about a week and a half since I returned from Europe, and I’ve finally posted again.  My girlfriend’s move and the start of classes have kept me away from the blogging world (well, and laziness ;-) ).  The trip was great.  I got to see Paris, Rome, Florence, Venice, and Basel.  I’m already excited about returning to Europe, though I’m not sure when that will be.  I got to use my French for practically the first time out of French class.  I was disappointed in my ability (or rather, lack there of), but I was able to get around okay for the most part.

Since returning, I’ve delved back into Paul for my “Life and Letters of the Apostle Paul” class this Fall.  So far I’ve been reading in Acts and 1 Corinthians, though hopefully I’ll have most of Acts and the Pauline letters read in Greek by the end of the semester.  I was worried that Acts would be too difficult in Greek, but a reader’s edition and familiarity with the narrative make it doable in chapter chunks.  Certainly it’s easier than Chrysostom and Eusebius!  I’ll get to do some Greek reading with my professor a few others, which will be great.  There may also be some other projects in the works, but not too many details yet.

All in all, this is shaping up to be a great semester.  I’m glad to be back into classes!

~Alex

Prepping for a visit to Europe

No Eusebius translation progress made.  I’m still half way done on a draft of his comments on Psalm 110 (109 LXX).  The comments are quite interesting, but I haven’t gotten around to finishing yet, and I probably won’t before I leave the country for two weeks ;-).

In a few days I’ll be traveling to Europe to meet up with my girlfriend and her family.  We’ll get to see Paris, Italy, and Switzerland:  about 16 days in all.  I’m quite excited, as I’ll finally be able to put my French to good use.  I’d also love to pick up a something from the “Sources Chretiennes” series while I’m in Paris, but I can’t for the life me of figure out how how to find a French “libraire” that would have anything like that.

So, if anyone has recommendations for things to while in Paris, please let me know!

~alex

Church Fathers (in French!)

I got a few books from the library today. Among them was a sources chrétiennes edition of Origen’s Commentary on Romans. This is a critical text with French translation, and loads of helpful commentary. I’m pleasantly surprised at my French. I’m able to follow along quite nicely and get the gist of what’s being said. Reading in a foreign language can be a mystical experience at times… Now, if only I could read Greek like I do French ;-).

Oh, and I must say, the “source chrétiennes” series is phenomenal, if this work is any indicator. I hope to get my hands on more.