Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Thanks to all my 'fans'...

. . . who take the trouble to write, and even to criticize.

Although those of you who know me only from Gypsy Scholar might not guess it, I do have a serious side, which finds expression on a number of scholarly discussion lists to which I am subscribed.

Recently, on the Ioudaios List, Robert Kraft posted an announcement about the Philadelphia Seminar on Christian Origins, concerning its "Topic For 2005-2006":

Redescribing the Holy Man: Theoretical Frameworks and Specific Applications

Whether Neoplatonic diadochai, Christian saints, Jewish rabbis, or the priests, healers, and prophets of the diverse local religious cultures of Late Antiquity, the methods and descriptions employed by modern scholars to make sense of these figures all speak of a shared imaginaire. Scholars of Christianity, Judaism, and other ancient Mediterranean traditions have embraced the Holy Man as an analytical type since it was introduced by Peter Brown in 1971. Recently, however, some theoretical studies have focused more closely on the various social roles performed by ritual experts in their communities, grounding the general type in more specific sub-types and social dynamics, and thereby pushing the academic community to a new stage of theoretical reflection and critique. Can the utility of the comparative taxon "Holy Man" be increased by refining the concept and, in some cases, employing a more thoroughly comparative method (between traditions, between individuals, between time periods, and between cultures)? It is our hope to use this year of PSCO to initiate an ongoing discussion involving scholars of early Christianity, scholars of early Judaism, and other students of late antiquity in an examination of the roles of these figures in the Greco-Roman world, and especially in early Judaism and Christianity, in order to further nuance the analytical concept of the Holy Man and increase its utility.

In line with the topic, a presentation is scheduled for Thursday, October 20, 2005 (7:00-9:00 p.m.), in the Second Floor Lounge of Logan Hall at the University of Pennsylvania:

David T. Frankfurter, University of New Hampshire
Topic: "From Holy Man to Ritual Experts"

This may sound esoteric to some of you, but it's one of those many things that interest me. In fact, one of my own presentations in Singapore this past June was on "Jesus as the Holy One of God," so I have a specific scholarly interest in the topic of the "Holy Man." But I can't travel from Seoul to Philadelphia in the middle of a semester just to hear one talk. So, I posted a response:

This sounds very interesting. I've also done some work on holiness in the New Testament. I can't make the session from Korea, but I'd like to read Frankfurter's paper sometime. Have you ever considered extending the seminar to include an online discussion?

I soon received a friendly offlist reply from a certain "GH" who clearly has nothing to do with the Philadelphia Seminar on Christian Origins but who responded to my post by first quoting some of my words and then commenting on them . . . or, rather, on my 'moral' character:

"This sounds very interesting. I've also done some work on holiness in the New Testament."

It didn't help to cure your propensity for lying, did it Jeffrey. Incidentally, I have spoken at length to Greg D. . . on the telephone, particularly about Dierk, Stephen and Ian.

This is the cybernetic equivalent of picking up the telephone and hearing an unfamiliar voice intone:

"We know who you are, and we saw what you did."

Except that I didn't do anything. And this GH fellow doesn't seem to know who I am. Therefore, after unruffling my feathers, I calmly replied to GH:

I do not know you, the people whom you are referring to, nor why you accuse me of lying.

Also, my name is "Jeffery," not "Jeffrey." I suggest that you have confused me with someone else.

To which, I received this ominous reply:

Where are you on the web site of Korea University?

This GH -- who seems to have confused me with somebody else and who refers to Greg, Dierk, Stephen, and Ian as if I'm supposed to know whom he's talking about -- is aware that I teach at Korea University and wants to know precisely where to find me.

I didn't reply to this query. I see no reason to help this GH fellow locate me with any greater precision since he appears to be slightly hostile toward whoever he thinks that I am.

But the initial email did provide my wife and me with a good, early morning laugh at GH's humor in noting that my work on holiness hadn't cured me of my "propensity for lying."

Apparently, GH has been reading my blog . . .


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