I have two active tasks on my agenda: (1) Translate through the NT in my personal time, and (2) write my thesis.
The two of these tasks collided yesterday as I ran through the edits my good friend Thomas Hudgins offered me for my first chapter of the thesis. There were inconsistencies upon inconsistencies in the way I abbreviated, cited, and generally wrote that chapter.
This may come as no surprise to most paper/thesis/dissertation writers as there will inevitably be typos, misspellings, and incorrect citations. But it was a bit of a blow to my ego.
A good portion of my time as a Research Assistant was proofing papers, preparing manuscripts, and editing dissertations. I could spot an incorrect citation a mile away and identify inconsistent capitalization even when the inconsistencies were separated by a hundred pages.
And yet, my own paper was riddled with hyphens when en-dashes were supposed to be used, en-dashes when em-dashes were required, and inconsistencies in the way I used em-dashes. There was a mix of smart quotations marks and dumb ones, inconsistent citations, failure to label tables, and blatant disregard for abbreviations I established at the beginning of the paper.
The glaring hypocrisy of my ways led me to apply Jesus’ words “first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Lk 6:42). It’s time for me to start cleaning up my own act instead of becoming incredulous at the minor inconsistencies in other’s papers.
My own frustrations in editing inconsistent papers has been turned against me. Apparently, I have been the most egregious offenders of the SBL Handbook of Style.