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Brett Graham

Abstract

This paper explains how recent advances in NLP technology can be harnessed to search for allusions and influences. The algorithms that have been used in several recent projects in the Digital Humanities are briefly analyzed with the aim of determining how effective these algorithms are in detecting the variety of reference forms that were used in ancient literature. Using the lessons learned from this analysis, a generic NLP algorithm is presented, including a set of syntax rules for textual references. The algorithm is designed to be generic so that it can be used to detect any type of textual reference in any type of text (or even an oral allusion to an oral speech). Finally, the benefits of this approach are highlighted using the results from testing the algorithm on the Pastoral Epistles.

Series:

Paul Robertson

Abstract

This chapter explores how to visualize the polythetic classification of ancient literature, specifically around Paul’s letters, Epictetus’ Discourses, and Philodemus’ On Piety and On Death. Building on previous research, the notion of polythetic classification is explored with respect to texts. Specific application then occurs with respect to Paul’s letters, showing how hand coding data in spreadsheets is necessary to capture the shape of a given piece of literary data. Such hand coding facilitates visualization of data, in the form of bar graphs and line graphs. These forms of visualization then allow for an empirical, transparent form of comparison between texts. Qualitative analysis can productively supplement this quantitative analysis, matching specific literary and conceptual context with second-order data analysis.

Series:

Brent Landau, Adeline Harrington and James C. Henriques

Abstract

Reading fragmentary and damaged papyri can be extremely challenging for even the most gifted of editors, and as a result, many important texts have multiple editions with divergent transcriptions. A new tool, however, can be useful for adjudicating between different transcriptions: a digital microscope can take high-resolution photographs of individual letters under magnification, and some models also allow for photography in the ultraviolet and infrared light spectra. This paper examines the use of a digital microscope for studying three fragmentary early Christian writings: P.Oxy. 210 (a possible fragment of an apocryphal gospel); P.Oxy. 4009 (which may or may not be part of Gospel of Peter); and P.Oxy. 4469 (an amulet containing part of King Abgar’s letter to Jesus). For each of these manuscripts, the co-authors were able to use a digital microscope to revise previous transcriptions. This article aims to make more specialists in ancient manuscripts aware of this extremely promising tool.

Chammah J. Kaunda

Abstract

This article employs a public theology approach from the perspective of a decolonial theory. It analyses how the Declaration of Zambia as a Christian Nation functioned as a nationalist neo-colonial ideology during the presidential campaign of 2016. It did so in a way that was designed to legitimize President Edgar Chagwa Lungu’s political candidacy and moral authority within the Pentecostal-Charismatic religious sector. The analysis seeks to demonstrate how the Declaration and the photography of the social media presidential campaign intersected in order to represent the image of Lungu as an idea Christian President. Informed by a thematic analysis and a decolonial public theology, the article unmasks and exposes how ideology can become normalized as social practice within a particular historical context. The theological-ethnographic material within the analysis was collected during the period from January 2016 to February 2017.

Mark Dawson

Abstract

Church action for Fair Trade in the United Kingdom serves as an example of an activity, inspired and guided by theology, which has grown to involve the active participation of large numbers of churchgoers. Public recognition of Fair Trade is high, embracing a wide, secular society. The expansion of Fair Trade has come at a price, however, with the increasing involvement of large commercial organisations threatening diminution of the original theological insight. In learning from the experience of the mainstreaming of Fair Trade in the United Kingdom, it could be argued that the theological reflection that gave rise to the Fair Trade movement was the beginning of a public theology. It needs to be acknowledged and now taken further, to respond to the changing context. A public theology involving congregations should be nurtured, so that the public theological insight can be disseminated and its guidance put into practice.

Nico Koopman

Abstract

This article discusses the development of a public theological response to the various challenges that have confronted South African democracy over the past twenty-five years. A public theology addresses three interdependent themes, namely the inherent public contents of faith, the public rationality of faith and the public significance of faith. The praxis of a Trinitarian theology and anthropology of vulnerability captures the emphasis liberation theology placed upon dignity, healing, justice, freedom and equality. The focus on human rights is a vehicle for justice while the call for unity—within the church and society at large—seeks a reconciliation that overcomes alienation. It seeks an end to oppression and dehumanization. In a context where the democratic vision of dignity, healing, justice, freedom and equality for all, especially for the most vulnerable, are not fulfilled, the prophetic modes of envisioning and criticism have to enjoy priority.

Caroline Redick

Abstract

This article seeks to offer a theological response for the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis (2011–19) by examining the doctrine of the Trinity in light of the contemporary landscape of displacement. In order to explore divine identity in relation to displacement and hospitality, the theology of Jürgen Moltmann will be utilized in order to interpret the current crisis through the lens of Trinitarian salvation. Moltmann’s understanding of Trinitarian persons as spaces will be explored to highlight the role of risk in love and to illustrate how salvific enfolding even embraces the possibility of harm. Finally, building from his theology, the article will argue that this understanding of Trinitarian salvation impacts a Christian ethic of hospitality during the refugee crisis.