No, this is not a joke! I recently finished reading Pope Benedict XVI's book Jesus of Nazareth. It is an excellent book and I recommend it highly. The most fascinating part for me was the pope's discussion of a book by Rabbi Jacob Neusner, A Rabbi Talks with Jesus. In that book Neusner seeks to explain why, if he had lived in Israel in the time of Jesus, he would not have been one of Jesus' followers. Neusner argues that Jesus is not just another rabbi attempting to reform Judaism and reinterpret the Torah, but is rather rejecting the Torah and its commandments, and attempting to take its place as the center of the Jewish faith. As a Jew loyal to the Torah, Neusner cannot accept Jesus or anyone else who seeks to replace the Torah. Still, Neusner is respectful toward Jesus and even says that he honors him and wishes him well.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Monday, January 14, 2008
Some of you knew that I was on sabbatical last semester. One of the things that I have to do now that my sabbatical is over is to write a report of what I accomplished. But since Berry College was amazingly generous in giving me time off at full pay for about eight months, I think that it's not enough just to file a report to the administration. I should also let Berry students know what I did, since their tuition money paid for a good deal of my sabbatical.
I did three things during the semester. One of them, my trip to Greece, was the topic of a previous post. It was a great experience, one from which I learned a lot and which I look forward to doing again soon (maybe with some Berry students!)
The other two activities were:
1. Working on a book on Stoic logic. This has become my scholarly obsession the last few years and I needed the time off to make the progress that the book demanded. The ancient Stoics had a highly sophisticated system of logic, one which anticipated in many respects modern symbolic logic. Unfortunately very little of their writings survive, so people like me have to piece together and reconstruct their beliefs from the remaining fragments. My method was to start with those fragments and then to use the tools of modern logic to see what kind of logical system the Stoics would have produced if they were living today and knew of all the advances in logic since the nineteenth century. I made some interesting discoveries, in particular, that the Stoic system of modal logic (the logic of necessity and possibility) is in certain very interesting ways very different from standard modern modal logics. The details are a bit too complex to discuss here but I will be glad to talk about them to anyone who is interested (or you can just wait for the book to come out!).
2. I attended a class for the first time since grad school! I had the great privilege of being a part of Dr. Ron Taylor's Real Analysis class. It was such a pleasure to be a student instead of a professor for a change. And I learned so much not only about mathematics (one of my long-standing passions) but also about teaching. I got many ideas about good teaching from watching Ron, and I am grateful both to him and to my fellow students for putting up with me for the semester. If I had the time, I'd be taking another class this semester too.
Posted by michael papazian at 2:11 PM