Hot Off The Press: Religious Studies, Business, Sociology Faculty Publish Research

Susan Brayford

associate professor of religious studies and author of

LXX Genesis: A Commentary

One could consider seven years a fitting length of time to complete a work of biblical scholarship. After all, Hebrew scriptures record the number seven as a symbol of completion (e.g., the week of creation).

Seven years is how long it took Dr. Susan Brayford to translate and write the commentary for her volume LXX Genesis: A Commentary.

It all began during her first semester at Centenary in the fall of 1998, when Brayford received a letter from a leading publisher, E. J. Brill, soliciting her contributions for their new commentary series on the Septuagint, the oldest Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures. This series represents the first English commentary series on the Septuagint.

Brayford expresses the surprise she felt at such an offer, which is “typically made to established senior scholars, not someone right out of graduate school.”

“Although flattered by the invitation, I was reluctant to undertake such a long-term project. However, with the encouragement of my colleagues and the support of the College, I accepted Brill’s offer.”

Because of the demands of Brayford’s teaching schedule and the nature of the project, she was unable to work on the commentary during the academic year. She dedicated every holiday break to working on the Genesis translation and commentary.

“It was always easy to answer the question, ‘What did you do on your summer vacation?’” she jokes.

Luckily, during most summers Brayford had some help with the project. In 2000, she used funds from a Centenary summer faculty grant to hire then-student Elizabeth Prince Johnston ’01 to do some initial work on the translation part of
the project.

During the next two summers, Brayford and student colleague Connie Manning ’03 collaborated on the project with funds from a Student/Faculty Summer Research Support Program grant.

“Connie worked diligently to translate nearly the entire book of Genesis from Greek to English,” Brayford says.

Appointed as research professor in the humanities from 2001 to 2003, Brayford found time to write a few chapters of the commentary. However, it soon became apparent that, even after three more summers of work, a yearlong sabbatical would be necessary to finish the project. Brayford simply needed an extended period to research and write without interruption.

“Fortunately, the Louisiana Board of Regents inaugurated a new grant, ATLAS, for people just like me who were in the final stages of a major project.”

Supported by the ATLAS grant, Brayford managed to complete the draft of what turned out to be a 600-page manuscript and submit it to her editor during the fall of 2005. Brayford spent the spring semester making suggested revisions and writing the book’s introduction.

After final approval from her editor, then from the series editor in June, Brayford received authorization to send the manuscript to the publisher with no additional changes. LXX Genesis: A Commentary is expected to be released in early 2007.

Chris Martin

Dean of the Frost School of Business and co-editor of

Managing Organizational Deviance

Ask Dean of the Frost School of Business Dr. Chris Martin about deviant behavior in organizations, and he’ll point to recent headlines in the Wall Street Journal noting the prevalence of bullying bosses, employees attacking their companies and bosses via the Web, and of course, the reckless leadership and illegal acts at Enron, WorldCom and HealthSouth.

However, Martin also argues that not all deviant behavior is destructive to organizations, and, in fact, is necessary to stimulate innovation and change. This is what he defines as “positive deviance” in his new book, Managing Organizational Deviance (Sage, 2005). He cites the idea of someone thinking outside the box, escalating conflict or taking risks as classic examples of positive deviance within an organization.

“I also wanted to acknowledge and address the ambiguous nature of deviance in organizations,” Martin says. “Deviance can be good or bad, beneficial or harmful, depending on the nature of the norms and the nature of the deviant behavior.

“Up until the 1970s, managers practiced conflict ‘resolution.’ Today, managers practice conflict ‘management’ and understand the pros and cons of too much or too little conflict within their organizations. We look at a variety of other forms of deviance in this same vein.”

Martin broadly defines deviance as any movement away from the rules, norms or accepted behavior from a particular stakeholder group’s perspective, be it the immediate workgroup, the company, shareholders or society at large.

“To understand the causes and consequences of deviant behavior in organizations, the book moves away from the traditional personality-based focus on deviance, to an examination of the role reward systems, organizational culture, context, leadership and group dynamics play. I wanted to provide students and practitioners with an understanding of the need to manage deviance rather than label it as a clearly bad behavior to be eliminated. In addition, managers need to understand how the actions they take influence both negative and positive deviance within the workforce.”

The book is an extension of Martin’s more than 20 years of research on organizational fairness, one of the triggers of deviant behavior. Coauthored and edited with Roland Kidwell from the University of Wyoming, Managing Organizational Deviance contains contributions from leading scholars in the fields of organizational behavior, organizational theory, human resource management and business ethics, who offer their informed views on topics that relate to managing organizational deviance effectively and ethically.

Michelle Wolkomir

associate professor of sociology and author of

Be Not Deceived
Dr. Michelle Wolkomir, associate professor of sociology and author of Be Not Deceived: The Sacred and Sexual Struggles of Gay and Ex-gay Christian Men (Rutgers University Press, 2006), has been named one of two winners for the inaugural Distinguished Book Award from the American Sociological Association’s Section on the Sociology of Sexualities.

In addition to winning this award, which was announced at ASA’s 101st annual convention Aug. 11–14 in Montreal, Be Not Deceived has been nominated for the Charles Horton Cooley Book Award in Symbolic Interaction.

In her 225-page book, Wolkomir explores the dilemma gay Christians face in their attempts to reconcile religious and sexual identities. She highlights the approaches of two ministries, the Metropolitan Community Church and Exodus International, which both offer very different solutions.

This book is the product of ethnographic research Wolkomir conducted in 1995 and 1998, initially spurred by Wolkomir’s attending a gay and lesbian support group meeting, which she had done to fulfill a requirement for her graduate seminar in social psychology.

Wolkomir has taught at Centenary since 2000, and currently serves as an associate professor of sociology and codirector of the Gender Studies Program. She co-organized the Associated College
of the South’s 2006 Gender Studies Conference and has received various research grants and won numerous awards, including Centenary’s Outstanding Teacher Award for 2005.

- by Kelsey Johnson, Associate Editor, Centenary Magazine