Archives par mot-clé : gospel

The real “scoop” of the so-called Jesus’ Wife Gospel: the transformation of the peer-review process

Whatever the so-called “Jesus’ Wife Gospel” is authentic or not, the media marketing around this fragment has the advantage of making more visible the presence of women in Ancient Christianities and speaking to a wide audience about some Gnostic texts such as the Gospel of Philip. This is of benefit in itself.

But the authentic “scoop” of this announcement stands at another level: in an article written by Jeanna Bryner in LiveScience, on the 19th of October, we learn that the Harvard Theological Review renounces to publish Karen King’s article in in the  January 2013 issue, a draft of which is available online. As I suggested in another blog, the most interesting point of this episode is probably its impact in terms of digital culture. It forecasts and figures the transformation of the peer-review process of the scientific articles in Humanities, a strongly established point in the scholarly life.

The withdrawal of the article by HTR raised diverse reactions, as J. Bryner informs us: Andrew Bernhard, an Oxford university graduate, considers that it is an historical moment in the academic process, with a moove to more transparence and openess in the peer-review process. Hershel Shanks (Biblical Archeogical Society) considers this withdrawing as a «shame» and something «coward», whereas Robert Bagnall waits prudently for the more recent analysis of the document.

We have here an interesting example of the turning-point announced by Kathleen Fitzpatrick in her excellent book Planned Obsolescence. Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy, available online: «I want to suggest that the time has come for us to consider whether, really, we might all be better served by separating the question of credentialing from the publishing process, by allowing everything through the gate, and by designing a post-publication peer review process taht focuses on how a scholarly text should be received rather than whether it should be out there in the first place».

Karen King’s article’s draft leads to such a transformation. First, it mentions some opinions of the peer-reviewers of the article, something unusual and new. Secondly, it is now reviewed by a number of other scholars on diverse websites, including this one. What is missing here is the centralisation and the moderation of the debate. As I told in my preceding blog, the Harvard Divinity School did not dare to propose also a blog / forum of discussion, kind of a first «post-publication peer-review » process of the draft article. It should have been done, it should be done, rather than to count of an old mode of publication in a journal.

A historical point of view is here required: at the 17th century, the scientific journals emerged, because they were because they were a more appropriate means of quickly diffusing opinions. In the English speaking world, the «Philosophical Transactions» have begun to s to disseminate widely scientific articles from 1662. In the French speaking world, as Dominique Vinck reminds (Hermès 57, 2010), the «Journal des Savants» succeded in 1665 to the informal network of scientific letters, held by Father Mersenne with 200 scholars in Europe.

It is almost evident to assert today that we are facing a similar turn. The quality of the scientific exchanges requires now the transformation of the academic literary production. As Kathleen Fitzpatrick proposes it, one has now to dissociate the moment of the publication from this one of the credentialing. One needs an efficient post-publication peer-review process, with the moderation of the opinions of the best scholars in the field.

If we go in that direction, we will only realize what Charles S. Pierce discribed several decades ago:«The very origin of the conception of reality shows that this conception essentially involves the notion of a COMMUNITY, without definite limits, and capable of an indefinite increase of knowledge. And so those two series of cognitions – the real and the unreal – consist of those which, at a time sufficiently future, the community will always continue to reaffirm; and of those which, under the same conditions, will ever after be denied» (Peirce, The Essential Peirce, vol. 1, Houser et alii (ed.), p. 52).

Claire Clivaz

Claire Clivaz is Head of Digital Enhanced Learning at the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics (VITAL-IT, Lausanne, CH) and belongs to an interdisciplinary team that started the Digital Humanities in Switzerland since 2011. She is also a member of the LADHUL (www.unil.ch/ladhul). This blog assumes to developp opinions and discussions on all the events and problematics around the Digital Humanities, particularly in the French speaking aerea. Claire Clivaz est Head of Digital Enhanced Learning à l'Institut Suisse de Bioinformatique (Lausanne, CH) et appartient à une équipe interdisciplinaire qui a lancé les Humanités Digitales en Suisse depuis 2011. Elle est membre du Ladhul (www.unil.ch/ladhul). Ce blog se propose de présenter et développer des sujets de discussions sur les événements et problématiques touchant aux Humanités Digitales, notamment dans l’ère linguistique et culturelle francophone.

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Le véritable scoop de «l’Evangile de la femme de Jésus»: la transformation des normes de publication académique (peer-review)

Quoi qu’il en soit de l’authenticité du fragment dit de l’«Evangile de la femme de Jésus», la publicité donnée à ce fragment aura eu l’avantage de mettre le projecteur sur le rôle des femmes dans certains mouvements chrétiens anciens, et de faire parler de textes apocryphes peu connus du grand public, comme l’Evangile selon Philippe. On ne peut que s’en réjouir.

Mais le véritable «scoop» de cet effet d’annonce se situe à un autre niveau, car un article de Live Science, écrit par Jeanna Bryner, a signalé le 19 octobre que la Harvard Theological Review (HTR) retirait pour l’instant de la publication du numéro de janvier 2013 l’article de la prof. Karen King, dont le brouillon est disponible online.

Comme je l’avais développé dans mon blog du 23 septembre, le point le plus intéressant de cet épisode médiatique est sans doute son impact en termes de culture digitale, et la transformation qu’il annonce du système «peer-review» des articles scientifiques en sciences humaines, pilier sans faille du débat et de la promotion académique.

La suspension de la publication par la HTR suscite diverses réactions, relayées par J. Bryner: Andrew Bernhard, diplômé d’Oxford, considère qu’on assiste probablement là à un moment historique dans l’histoire des processus académiques, en assistant à un progrès vers l’ouverture et la transparence dans le système du «peer-review». Hershel Shanks (Biblical Archeological Society) qualifie quant à lui d’«honteux» et de «couard» le retrait de l’article par HTR, tandis que Robert Bagnall, célèbre papyrologue qui a cautionné l’authenticité du document, se tait prudemment en attendant la fin de l’expertise.

Il est passionnant de voir se réaliser ici un tournant annoncé depuis au moins trois ans par Kathleen Fitzpatrick dans son excellent ouvrage Planned Obsolescence. Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy, disponible online: «je souhaiterais suggérer que le moment est venu de considérer que nous pouvons obtenir de meilleurs résultats en séparant la question de l’accréditation de celle du processus de publication, en permettant un large accès à la publication, et en mettant au point un processus de peer review post-publication qui mette en lumière la manière dont un texte académique doit être reçu, plutôt que comment il doit être produit».

De fait, l’exemple de l’article de Karen King publié online sous forme de brouillon ouvre la porte à cette étape. Premièrement, il fait mention au début du texte du travail des reviewers officiels, nouveauté pour HTR. Deuxièmement, il est en ce moment en train d’être «reviewé» par de nombreux pairs, sur de multiples sites web, y compris sur ce blog. On voit que ce qui manque ici, c’est la centralisation et la modération des informations. En effet, comme je l’ai souligné dans mon blog précédant, Harvard n’a pas été jusqu’à oser la mise en discussion – le processus peer-review post-publication – de l’article «brouillon». Il aurait fallu, il faudrait encore le faire, plutôt que batailler sur l’accès à une publication dans une revue dont le format n’est plus satisfaisant.

Le regard historique est ici plus qu’instructif: le 17ème siècle a vu la naissance des revues scientifiques, parce que c’était le meilleur moyen de diffuser rapidement des opinions. Dans le monde anglo-saxon, ce sont les «Philosophical transactions» qui ouvrirent le bal des articles académiques en 1662. Dans le monde francophone, comme le rappelle Dominique Vinck dans un article (Hermès 57, 2010), c’est le «Journal des Savants» qui en 1665 succéda au système informel des 200 correspondants épistoliers du Père Mersenne à travers toute l’Europe.

N’est-il pas quasi tautologique d’affirmer que nous sommes désormais à un tournant similaire, et que la qualité des échanges et de la pratique scientifique en sciences humaines et sociales demande, exige, appelle la transformation du système de production académique? Comme le propose Kathleen Fitzpatrick, il faut désormais dissocier le moment de la publication de celui de l’accréditation. Il faut mettre en place une modalité efficace de peer-review post-publication, qui modère et intègre les meilleurs réactions du domaine sur la question.

Qu’aurons-nous alors fait? Rien d’autre que ce que le philosophe Charles S. Peirce exprimait si clairement il y a plusieurs décennies: «L’origine même de la conception de la réalité montre que cette conception implique essentiellement la notion d’une communauté sans limites définies et susceptible d’une croissance indéfinie de la connaissance. Et ainsi ces deux séries de connaissances – le réel et l’irréel – comprennent celles qu’à une époque suffisamment future la communauté continuera toujours de réaffirmer, et celles que, dans les mêmes conditions, elle ne cessera jamais de nier» (Peirce, The Essential Peirce, vol. 1, Houser et alii (éd.), p. 52).

Claire Clivaz

Claire Clivaz is Head of Digital Enhanced Learning at the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics (VITAL-IT, Lausanne, CH) and belongs to an interdisciplinary team that started the Digital Humanities in Switzerland since 2011. She is also a member of the LADHUL (www.unil.ch/ladhul). This blog assumes to developp opinions and discussions on all the events and problematics around the Digital Humanities, particularly in the French speaking aerea. Claire Clivaz est Head of Digital Enhanced Learning à l'Institut Suisse de Bioinformatique (Lausanne, CH) et appartient à une équipe interdisciplinaire qui a lancé les Humanités Digitales en Suisse depuis 2011. Elle est membre du Ladhul (www.unil.ch/ladhul). Ce blog se propose de présenter et développer des sujets de discussions sur les événements et problématiques touchant aux Humanités Digitales, notamment dans l’ère linguistique et culturelle francophone.

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Harvard Divinity School’s Digital Control and Omission. The ‘Jesus Wife Gospel’ at the Digital stake

In the scholarly world of early Christian origins and in a wider Western public audience, the news of a Coptic Egyptian Gospel fragment presented by Karen King (Harvard Divinity School, HDS) has mooved very fast, because of these words: ‘Jesus said to them: my wife…’.

I would like here to decipher the phenomenon from the digital culture point of view. It is a very interesting case of digital control by HDS, but the famous institution did also a big omission or mistake regarding the use of the new digital culture, as I will develop in a few remarks.

The website page illustrates in an acute way the emergent digital culture. First of all, a draft of a Harvard Theological Review article is already available online, underlining what is announced since a long time by DH experts: the inadequacy of the «review» system regarding the digital support of publication. If Harvard itself offers online its articles before to publish them in the journals, it is an evidence that the academic system of the peer-reviewing articles is in transformation.

Secondly, the webpage illustrates the multisensoriality proper to the digital culture, and even the victory of the image and sound on the written information. Indeed, I take no risk by considering that almost all the people will have cliked on the 2’29 min youtube moovie of the HDS webpage, but only very few of them would have read the 52 pages article… A scientific news is announced by a media that uses emotional impact (image, sound of a voice, words transmitting emotion, etc). It is a total revolution in the academic style of expression. We are here very far away from Leopold von Ranke advising to put out all emotional style from the historical writing, and worried to annoy his readers…

Such a youtube impact is also to situate in the US context: in May 2012, Dan Wallace, from the CNTM in Dallas, announced also on a youtube moovie the discover of seven very early NT manuscripts… Does HDS try here to offer a kind of «counter-announcement»? Academic fight and discussions are now largely using youtube. What a news…

But, last and not least, HDS did also a very important digital cultural omission in its website page, in my opinion. HDS did not consider one of the main features of the emerging digital culture: the interactivity. There is no possibility to add a point of view, to react – may by with another youtube moovie!!! – on the HDS website page. A lot of blogs have begun to react, as we can see, as well as comments on youtube. HDS would have got a still more strong impact by adding the possibility to react on the website. By offering an interactive rubric, HDS would have been able to moderate the reaction of people, to choose the critics and comments, and so to offer a webpage with the scholarly debate as well, and with Karen King answers. That would have been a complete digital control of the communication. For the next time, probably….

Claire Clivaz

Claire Clivaz is Head of Digital Enhanced Learning at the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics (VITAL-IT, Lausanne, CH) and belongs to an interdisciplinary team that started the Digital Humanities in Switzerland since 2011. She is also a member of the LADHUL (www.unil.ch/ladhul). This blog assumes to developp opinions and discussions on all the events and problematics around the Digital Humanities, particularly in the French speaking aerea. Claire Clivaz est Head of Digital Enhanced Learning à l'Institut Suisse de Bioinformatique (Lausanne, CH) et appartient à une équipe interdisciplinaire qui a lancé les Humanités Digitales en Suisse depuis 2011. Elle est membre du Ladhul (www.unil.ch/ladhul). Ce blog se propose de présenter et développer des sujets de discussions sur les événements et problématiques touchant aux Humanités Digitales, notamment dans l’ère linguistique et culturelle francophone.

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