The University of Michigan Papyrology Collection contains numerous Coptic biblical manuscripts that have been published over the years, not least of which is the famous Middle Egyptian Fayyumic codex of the Gospel of John (P.Mich. inv. 3521). There are, however, a number of Coptic fragments at Michigan that have never been published or identified. Just recently, for example, I edited P.Mich. inv. 546, a Sahidic parchment fragment of the Gospel of Luke, and P.Mich. inv. 547, some early Christian fragments with Gospel excerpts written in Fayyumic. The collection thus continues to reveal its contents. In March of 2013, I examined three unpublished Coptic papyrus fragments housed in the Michigan collection, inventoried with the description, “Christian text, not biblical.” After some checking, however, I securely identified all three fragments as copies of 2Timothy 1-4 and Titus, written in the Sahidic dialect. The papyri were purchased from the well-known Cairo dealer Maurice Nahman in 1925 and came to the University of Michigan in October 1926 as a gift of Oscar Weber and Richard H. Webber of Detroit. What is amazing is that they have sat at Michigan for nearly a century without even being noticed. G. Browne does not mention the fragments in his Michigan Coptic Texts (1979) nor are they mentioned in Worrell’s Coptic Texts in the University of Michigan Collection (1942). There are other papyri at Michigan bearing the inventory number “3535” (including 3535a, Galatians; ed. princ. Browne) but our fragments are codicologically unrelated to them. Professor Karlheinz Shüssler has brought to my attention the many striking similarities in handwriting between our 3535b and P.Mich. inv. 3992, another Sahidic papyrus codex housed in Michigan, which has been dated by Husselman (“written perhaps as early as the third century A.D. and certainly not later than the fourth”), Kahle, Schüssler and others to the 4th century CE. Taking a more cautious approach, I suggest that the fragments may be placed somewhere in the 4th-7th centuries (or pre-Arab Conquest), but this is admittedly a tentative judgment.
I shall limit myself to the introduction or “sneak peek” above and the images below. I am pleased to announce that my edition of these fragments has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Biblical Literature and is forthcoming, so please be on the lookout for it.
As a PhD candidate, I have heard quite a lot about career development in academia. Every PhD candidate is always asking questions about how to get a job, how to get funding, how to get published, and our institutions, mentors and supervisors are always helping us think carefully through these types of questions. And these are indeed extremely important questions because in today's job market academic positions are hard to come by, due to the large pool of applicants and the competitive nature of the entire enterprise. Most universities have programs that deal specifically with career development which aim to assist graduate students in a variety of things, such as applications for funding, building a strong CV, how to give a better conference paper, how to be a better teaching assistant, how to write a solid teaching philosophy, etc.
It just so happens that the best advice on career development that I have heard comes from a specialist in my own field (Papyrology), who is also a mentor and friend. Dr. Malcolm Choat, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Ancient History at Macquarie University, recently led a workshop at Macquarie where he addressed strategies for developing fellowship applications and planning an early career. His talk is available on YouTube and I have posted it below for your convenience. He talks about the specifics of publishing, collaborating and networking, administrative jobs, conferences, research output and professional outcome. For example, Choat says that every time someone says something good about your work, write it down, since it is much easier to demonstrate that other scholars are saying good things about your work than to convince a funding committee yourself that your work is important. Another line of great advice is this: "Don't say yes to everything, but say yes to important things." That is, say "yes" to the things that will help you and your career, such as an invitation to speak on a conference panel that deals with your research project, but don't say "yes" to projects that are irrelevant to your work or uninteresting to you. As for publishing, Choat recommends having 3 to 4 articles published before applying for a post-doc position. And don't choose just any ole' journal. Choose international journals that are ranked highly in the field, and journals that are harder to get into. He talks about the importance of networking and building relationships with peers, as it may lead to important collaborative opportunities someday. While some discourage the use of blogs, Choat says that they afford an effective platform for discussing one's own work and for garnering international attention. He gives an example of a young Coptologist who runs an important blog that many scholars read, and I am guessing he is referring to Alin Suciu's excellent blog.
I encourage all of my colleagues and friends, and anyone else who is working on a PhD (in any field) and considering an academic career, to watch the video below. There are also some really fun anecdotes about Choat's early carer and references to some papyri, Coptic, monks and monasticism, and the International Congress of Papyrology. The video captures bits of Choat's humor as well, which is never dull!
The Fifth Enoch Graduate Seminar, chaired by Lorenzo DiTommaso and Gerbern S. Oegema, will be hosted by Concordia University and McGill University in Montreal, Canada, from May 20 to 23, 2014. The two universities are located in the downtown core of the city, about eight blocks from each other under the famous Mount Royal. Ph.D. students and post-doctoral researchers working in all fields of Second Temple Judaism and Christian Origins are invited to participate and present papers. Paper proposals in English or French (500-1000 words) from all fields of Second Temple Judaism (Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, Dead Sea Scrolls, Christian Origins, Jewish-Hellenistic literature, etc.) should be submitted to the Seminar secretary, Dr. Isaac W. Oliver, by December 15, 2013. Completed papers of 6000-10000 words should be submitted by the end of March 2014, to be distributed in advance among the invited Seminar participants.
A number of new features will make the Fifth Enoch Graduate Seminar a unique experience. First, the meeting is bilingual, and we expect to have one session of papers composed in French (translators will be on site for the discussions if needed). Second, several invited speakers including Gabriele Boccaccini, James H. Charlesworth, André Gagné, Pierluigi Piovanelli, and Loren Stuckenbruck will deliver plenary lectures on topics of special interest. Third, revised versions of the best papers will be collected and published in the T&T Clark series "Jewish and Christian Texts in Contexts." Finally, a portion of the travel and lodging expenses for Seminar participants will be covered. For further information and application, please contact Dr. Oliver (email@example.com).
La cinquième session du Enoch Graduate Seminar, présidée par Lorenzo DiTommaso et Gerbern S. Oegema, aura lieu aux universités Concordia et McGill de Montréal du 20 au 23 mai 2014. Les deux universités se trouvent au centre-ville, proche l’une de l’autre au pied du célèbre Mont Royal. Les doctorants et chercheurs postdoctoraux qui travaillent sur les champs du judaïsme du Second Temple et des origines chrétiennes (littérature apocryphe et pseudépigraphe, manuscrits de la Mer Morte, littérature du christianisme ancien, littérature judéo-hellénistique, etc.) sont invités à participer en présentant un travail de recherche. Les résumés des contributions (500-1000 mots) doivent être soumis au secrétaire Isaac W. Oliver le 15 décembre 2013 au plus tard. Les travaux complets seront distribués aux participants avant la conférence, à la fin du mois de mars 2014.
Cette cinquième session du Enoch Graduate Seminar comportera différents aspects inédits. Tout d’abord, le colloque sera bilingue et inclura une session de présentations de travaux en français (des traducteurs seront disponibles sur place si nécessaire). Deuxièmement, plusieurs chercheurs invités, entre autres, Gabriele Boccaccini, James H. Charlesworth, André Gagné, Pierluigi Piovanelli et Loren Stuckenbruck donneront des conférences sur divers thèmes pertinents. Troisièmement, les meilleurs projets de la conférence seront rassemblés et publiés dans la série "Jewish and Christian Texts in Contexts" de T&T Clark. Finalement, une part des dépenses liées au voyage et au logement des participants sera prise en charge par la conférence. Pour plus d’information, contactez Isaac W. Oliver (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I haven't blogged much in the last month, mostly due to being inundated by a considerable number of responsibilities, both academic and otherwise. I plan to get back to it in the coming weeks. The Fall semester is on the horizon and this will be my last year as a "normal" PhD student. In the Spring term, I will be teaching my first University course: RELI 302, "Introduction to Christian Origins." I have only one, required seminar remaining and then I just have to finish my dissertation. I have already written two chapters of my dissertation and the direction is clear. The goal will be to have the dissertation completed by Fall 2014 and to defend that term or Spring 2015. I have managed over the last year to publish several important papyri and I am happy to say that I learned last week that my article submitted to the Journal of Biblical Literature (JBL) was accepted. I will continue to edit manuscripts over the next year, although my focus will primarily be on finishing my program. I have two documentary papyri (one from Yale and one from Michigan) that I am editing and will submit within the coming weeks, but after that I will shift my focus a bit. I wish everyone a great semester and look forward to staying in touch.