Monday, May 25, 2009
I have moved to wordpress (or as others put it, from darkness to light, from being dead to being alive, from the NT to the OT--ok, maybe that last one is a little biased). The new address is as follows:
Please, do enjoy the much more pleasing aesthetics, and comment! Also, please update your blogrolls, feeds, links, etc. appropriately!
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
See the several posts just below covering the three-days worth of questions I was privileged enough to answer!
All the best!
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Monday, May 4, 2009
Today was New Testament for me. I had 11 potential questions I could have received. Here is what I ended up getting.
Question 1 (choose one)
Choose one representative NT interpreter from the "pre-modern," "modern," and "post-modern" approaches. Situate each interpreter in his/her social, historical, and institutional context, describing his/her approach to biblical interpretation. Compare the methods and goals of interpretation of each interpreter, noting strengths and weaknesses of each approach. Do this using the same biblical material for each interpreter. Develop and defend your own hermeneutical position.
In modern Protestantism, fundamentalist, liberal, neo-orthodox, and narrative theologians have had distinctive approaches to the use of the NT in constructive Christian ethics. Take either the issue of "women" or that of "homosexuality" and show how each of the four groups might argue from biblical data to a constructive Christian ethical stance
Question 2 (choose one)
Study of the Fourth Gospel and the Three Johannine epistles has focused of late on teh development of the Johannine community with scholars like J. Louis Martyn and Raymond E. Brown on the one side and scholars like Georg Strecker and Udo Schnelle on the other. Describe the two sides' positions and indicate the ramifications of adhering to one or the other position (e.g., history of religions focus and purpose of the writings)
What is the key to Paul's theology? Evaluate the answers of F.C. Baur, A. Schweitzer, James S. Stewart, R. Bultmann, E.P. Sanders, Ben Witherington III, and James D.G. Dunn. Does the renewed study of ancient epistolary literature and of ancient rhetoric have any impact on how Paul's theology is understood today? What does?
Question 3 (choose one)
Explain the significance of the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and in A.D. 135 for the various forms of Middle Judaism. (In your answer be sure to include at least the Pharisees, Sadducees, Zealots, Essenes, Apocalypticists, and the Christian Messianists).
Assuming that at least one of the general epistles involves pseudonymous authorship, set such a practice in its cultural context in Mediterranean antiquity and indicate and evaluate the historical and theological issues involved in such a practice.
I answered the first question listed in each set. In total I wrote about 21 pages today, so that brings my grand total for the entire set of exams to about 67-70 pages in 3 days (15 hours). Not too shabby! I should hopefully be hearing back results within a week!
I can say now, in hindsight, that this was to be sure a quite stressful process, but at the same time, a very rewarding one. Not only do I have a very fine overview of the field, but I have also filled in many of the gaps I felt I had before. All that said, however, I have no desire to do these again!!!
All the best!
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
If time permits, I will post my reflections throughout the process. I appreciate your prayers (non-imprecatory, of course!). Wish me luck!
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
With preparation for comps (12 days away for the first session!) taking up much of my time, I have had little opportunity to read for reviews as assiduously as I had hoped. Never fear, though! Once comps are done, I plan to post a series of book reviews as time permits. Here is a little teaser of what I will be reviewing . . . (click the picture for more info on the title).
Monday, April 13, 2009
You can search for my name and read the (incomplete!) abstract for my paper (or just scroll down a few posts to read the full version).
Happy perusing! Here are a few early stand-outs for me . . .
Bible Translation (this first paper looks fascinating!!!)
Theme: General papers Bible Translation
Sarah Lind, Presiding
John Anderson, Baylor University A Trickster Oracle in Gen 25:23: Reading Jacob and Esau between Beten and Bethel (25 min)
Dorothea Erbele-Kuester, Theological University Kampen How should we translate unjust and androcentric biblical texts in gender-sensitive and just language? (25 min)
Yoo-Ki Kim, Seoul Women's University The translation of hyt.b in Jonah 4:4 (25 min)
Flemming A.J. Nielsen, University of Greenland Translation strategies in the Greenlandic Bible (25 min)
Lynell Zogbo, United Bible Societies Walk the walk! Talk the talk! (25 min)
Cosmin-Constantin Murariu, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven “Right” and “Freedom” in Light of Paul’s Rhetoric in 1 Corinthians 9 (25 min)
Book of Psalms
Theme: The Psalms and Creation
Nancy L. Declaisse-Walford, Presiding
Rolf Jacobson, Luther Seminary Theological Implications of Creation's Praise of the Lord (30 min)
David Rensberger, Interdenominational Theological Center Surveying Creation’s Praise: Psalm 148 and Its Descendants (30 min)
Esther M. Menn, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago Violent Waters: Reading the Psalms after Katrina (30 min)
Arthur Walker-Jones, University of Winnipeg The LORD, Who Makes Skies and Earth: The Importance of Creation in the Psalter (30 min)
Book of Psalms
Theme: Open Session
W. Bellinger, Baylor University, Presiding
Susan Gillingham, University of Oxford Psalm 2 through the Centuries: A Case Study of Jewish and Christian Reception History of the Psalms (30 min)
Will Kynes, University of Cambridge Doxology in Disputation: The Use of Psalms 8 and 107 in the Book of Job (30 min)
Arthur Boulet, Westminster Theological Seminary The Prayer of Manasseh: A Window Into the Shape and Shaping of the Hebrew Psalter (30 min)
Roy Garton, Baylor University The Death of a Psalmist: A Structural Analysis and Literary Reading of Psalm 88 (30 min)
Joel M. LeMon, Emory University The Ethics of the Psalms and the Problem of Violence (30 min)
Book of Psalms
Theme: The Psalms and Creation
Karl Jacobson, Augsburg College, Presiding
J. Richard Middleton, Roberts Wesleyan College The Role of Human Beings in the Cosmic Temple: The Intersection of Worldviews in Psalms 8 and 104 (30 min)
Stephen J. Lennox, Indiana Wesleyan University “In Wisdom You Made Them All”: Creation Theology in Psalm 104 against the Background of the Ancient Near East (30 min)
Carol J. Dempsey, University of Portland Creation Imagery in the Psalms: Its Beauty and Its Invitation (30 min)
Victoria Hoffer, Yale University Let the Heavens Rejoice! Imageries of Creation and Creator in the Service of Psalms (30 min)
John S. Vassar, Louisiana State University in Shreveport Yahweh as Artisan: A Metaphor of Creation in the Hebrew Psalter (30 min)
Theme: Themes in Matthew
Daniel Gurtner, Bethel Theological Seminary, Presiding
Matthew Thiessen, Duke University Abolishers of the Law and the Early Jesus Movement (20 min)Discussion (10 min)
Jens Herzer, University of Leipzig The Riddle of the Holy Ones in Matthew 27:51-53: A New Proposal for a crux interpretum (20 min)Discussion (10 min)
Yonghan Chung, Graduate Theological Union The Temple in Matthew's Eschatology (20 min)Discussion (10 min)
Abel Bibliowicz, *The Anti-Jewish Strand in Matthew (20 min)Discussion (10 min)
George Thomas Givens, Duke University From the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel to All the Nations: A Challenge to Supersessionist Readings of Matthew (20 min)Discussion (10 min)
Theme: Narrative and Law
Reinhard Achenbach, University of Münster (Germany) Presiding
Pamela Barmash, Washington University Law and Narrative in Genesis (25 min)
Diana Lipton, King's College London Legal Analogy in Deuteronomy and Fratricide in the Field (25 min)
Bruce Wells, St. Joseph's University The Story of the hated Wife in Genesis and in Deuteronomy (25 min)
Klaus-Peter Adam, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago Inadvertence in abstract legal terminology in asylum laws and in narratives (25 min)
Calum Carmichael, cornell university Jacob’s “red, red dish” and the Ritual of the Red Heifer (25 min)
Saturday, April 11, 2009
I am now 15 days away from my first day of comps. Thus far I have committed two questions to memory: Israelite Origins and Ethnicity, and the Tenth Century Debate. Pentateuch history of scholarship is up next, to be followed by Psalms, OT theology, and Former and Latter Prophets. NT I hope to get to next week!
Let's hope I can keep this material all in my mind. I trust it will go well, but I'd be lying if I said I was looking forward to a week's worth of exams!
I have yet to have any dreams (that I remember) relating to the tests . . . although I did have one several months ago where I took the exams for some reason in a nice convenience store, and I was able to come out, get coffee, snacks, etc. at my leisure. It was nice and relaxed. Let's hope that dream becomes a reality (at least the nice and relaxed part).
Keep on a'praying for me!
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Monday, April 6, 2009
No big surprise here, right? Regular readers of my blog will be well aware of my appreciation for the honesty with which Brueggemann interprets even the most difficult of biblical texts, as well as the relevancy he seeks in his interpretations for contemporary communities of faith. His Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy is a masterful, magisterial work from which I have learned more than I can adequately recount, and his Genesis commentary in the "Interpretation" series is, from my perspective, an exceptional volume for this series. Walter Brueggemann, without a doubt (and yes, I know this is bordering on haggiography!), is without a doubt one of the most formative scholars for the work I do, both in the questions he asks and in the conception of God he sees in the Hebrew Bible.
I have often found Childs' work to be quite compelling, even in his earlier, form-critical days. His canonical methodology has greatly influencd my work, and I would argue has set the stage for much current biblical scholarship since his seminal Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture in 1979. He is also one of a very few scholars who I feel has successfully bridged the Testaments, being able to write successfully and prolifically in both the OT and NT. I was saddened to here of his recent passing, but I trust that his methodological programme, at the very least, will continue unabated for some years to come.
Fretheim's theological work on the God of the Hebrew Bible was foundational very early on in my studies. While in undergrad, I read his The Suffering of God, which revolutionized my understanding of the deity in relation to creation. The material Fretheim adduces in the service of highlighting the intimacy with which God has chosen to involve Himself in creation is not only compelling but also beautifully moving. And while this 'open theism' may be unpalatable to some contemporary theologians, I contend it is not only necessary to a proper comprehension of God but also vital--as Fretheim notices--to addressing questions of theodicy. Reading Fretheim is always a transformative exercise for me. My encounter with his The Suffering of God exploded an 'original' paradigm of God I had long held, and replaced it with something far more honest, and far more valuable.
Gerhard von Rad
While the certainty with which von Rad wrote, as well as several of his conclusions (i.e., that the kleine credo are ancient recitals of faith that have been expanded into the larger narrative traditions of the Hebrew Bible) is arguably no longer able to be maintained, I have been greatly influenced by the reading of his two volume OT theology. I find him to be a necessary dialogue partner in any theological work I do. Among my greatest take-aways from von Rad is what may seem to be an innocuous enough point, namely that the ancestral promise in Gen 12:1-3 is the conclusion to the primeval history (Gen 1-11) rather than the beginning of the ancestral narratives (Gen 12-50). Surely his 'unassumed' center for his theology--heilsgeschichte--dictates in large part this conclusion, but I do think he is on to something in reading the Hebrew Bible as a narrative of salvation history.
Renowned Holocaust survivor, Nobel peace prize recipient, and prolific author Elie Wiesel has transformed for me the very language in which one can (and should?) talk about God. Auschwitz is a crisis of faith, surely, for Christianity just as much as it is for Judaism; it has become my 'crisis,' in a way. The poetically haunting beauty of Wiesel's words has affirmed for me the importance and fidelity of questions--a liturgy of questions--for faith. Wiesel has said that after the Holocaust he still prays to God . . . but only with questions. This perseverence of 'faith' has always struck me to be beautifully honest. The words of his memoir, Night, have never left me. And while Wiesel is not a formal biblical scholar, his midrashic treatment of the biblical text (see for example his Messengers of God has cracked many a biblical text wide open for me.
Wilson's work on the shape and shaping of the Hebrew Psalter has undoubtedly revolutionized contemporary Psalms scholarship; quests for the overarching "metanarrative" of the canonical Psalter are now very much in vogue, and these discussions are very much on my scholarly radar. His The Editing of the Hebrew Psalter is one of the most satisfying, engaging, and compelling volumes I have read in a while. And his later work was equally as rewarding (see his essays in the McCann edited Shape and Shaping of the Psalter, 1993). I deeply lament his untimely passing, but I am thankful for the wealth of work he has left us.
Again, regular readers of my blog will likely be well aware of my deep appreciation for Alter's methodological insights and application in The Art of Biblical Narrative. His recognition of the literary-aesthetic qualities of Biblical Hebrew has--to be intentionally repetitive--set the stage for modern biblical interpretation (along with other seminal works such as Sternberg's Poetics), and I am thankful for his emphasis on not only what the text means but how it means. Anyone who reads my work knows I have gleaned very much from Alter, and his modeling of close-reading of the biblical text is a foundational hermeneutical principle that I take very seriously.
One of my teachers at Duke, I am most appreciate of Crenshaw's work on the character of God as a sometimes-oppressive entity (see his A Whirlpool of Torment and his Defending God). The import of his work on wisdom literature also goes without saying. I must also mention that he was always a delight to interact with, and was one of the kindest men I have spoken with in academia. Some of the stories he told in class--off-topic--were among the funniest things I have heard in a long while.
I was not fortunate enough to take a course with Sanders while I was at Duke; he retired at the end of my first year there. I was able, however, to schedule an appointment with him to discuss his work and get him to sign my books. My attraction to Sanders is twofold. First, I have always found his understanding of the historical Jesus to have much to commend itself. And second, covenantal nomism and his volume Paul and Palestinian Judaism has helped me to have a greater understanding of Paul within his all-important Jewish context.
Dr. Hays was another one of my teachers at Duke. Among those aspects of Hays' scholarship that have influenced me most are his work on intertextuality and the use of the OT in the NT. I recently had the opportunity to catch up briefly with him again at SBL in Boston and offer my congratulations for his recent festschrift (The Word Leaps the Gap, Eerdmans, 2008), which I have yet to read but hope to soon. The work required of me in Dr. Hays' class--which I got an A in, thank you very much!! (wink)--set a standard I had to work quite assiduously to meet, and I feel helped prepare me very much for Ph.D. work. Dr. Hays is also among the most gentle, helpful, and giving men I have had the opportunity to know in academia; we had many one-on-one meetings in his office, discussing issues ranging from Paul to the historical Jesus to graduate work.
Dr. Portier-Young is a recent Duke Ph.D. grad and current professor in OT at Duke Divinity School. It is because of her constant pressing that my Hebrew is at the level it currently is (that's a positive statement). As I have mentioned elsewhere, it was also in her course on Genesis that I first developed an interest in the texts of deception in the Jacob cycle and first articulated my ideas on the topic in writing. At bottom, I attribute much of where I am currently to Dr. Portier-Young.
Dr. Haar is chair of the religion department at my undergrad, Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD. He was born to Jewish parents who were also Holocaust survivors; he later converted to Christianity and was ordained as a Lutheran pastor. After living that existence for thirty years, he returned to the Jewish faith. From him I have learned the importance of questions, boundaries, interfaith dialogue, as well as my interest in Judaism. It is because of him that I became a religion major and entered this field in the first place (I was originally a psychology major). I am privileged to call him not only my teacher but also a dear, dear friend.
Dr. Swanson also teaches at Augustana College, where I did my undergrad, in NT. Some of you may recognize his name as one of the originators of what has come to be known as 'performance criticism' (see his Provoking the Gospel introductory volume, as well as the series on each of the gospels). In sum, 'performance criticism' involves the embodying of biblical texts as an interpretive tool. Having taken part in several such performances in the past, I can attest to the tremendous insights that may arise from such a methodology. I am most appreciative to Dr. Swanson for this method as it has transformed the biblical text from a flat, two-dimensional entity into a three-dimensional embodiment of characters. As such, seemingly innocuous matters such as attire, intonation, facial expression, etc. assume deep hermeneutical implications. I am also thankful to Dr. Swanson as he married my wife and I!
W.H. Bellinger, Jr.
Dr. Bellinger is currently chair of the religion department at Baylor, where I am working towards my Ph.D. in biblical studies (OT). He has influenced me in a number of ways, not least of which is introducing me to Old Testament theology, which based upon several of my entries above (Brueggemann, von Rad, Childs) has become a main area of focus in my studies. I have found him to be an invaluable dialogue partner, and his questions are always helpful in honing and sharpening my work. I am also currently working with him on two of his book projects: a Psalms commentary to be published by Smyth & Helwys, and the second revised edition of his Psalms: Reading and Studying the Book of Praises published with Hendrickson, which has afforded me many insights into the publishing side of academia. I am very much looking forward to writing my dissertation with him, beginning in the fall.
J.P. Fokkelman, Mark Brett, and Chris Heard (three-way tie)
See my post below on "Five Books on Genesis I could not do without . . . " for an explanation.
I look forward to your thoughts on the list. I am sure as I think about it further, more names will come to me.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
Friday, April 3, 2009
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
1. Michael James Williams, Deception in Genesis: An Investigation into the Morality of a Unique Biblical Phenomenon. Studies in Biblical Literature 32; New York: Peter Lang, 2001.
Lipton's volume is perhaps little known, which is unfortunate given that its content is replete with great insight and depth. She treats five dream texts in Genesis--Abimelech's dream (Gen 20); Jacob's Bethel dream (Gen 28); Jacob's dream about the spotted and speckled sheep (Gen 31); Laban's dream (Gen 31); and the covenant of the pieces (Gen 15)--in the attempt to demonstrate how these dreams seek to revise the reader's understanding of events. I have yet to finish the entire volume, but her analysis of Jacob's dream in 30:10-13 coheres very well with what I argue to be the relationship between the seemingly incompatible chapters 29 and 30 (see my forthcoming article in PRSt). Given also my view of these dream texts as ultimately 'theophanic' texts and thus of decisive importance for interpretation of the Jacob cycle as a whole--more particularly YHWH's role within the cycle--I am appreciative for Lipton's sustained treatment of these narratives in a single volume.
I would contend that next to Brueggemann's commentary on Genesis in the Interpretation series (see below), very few books on Genesis focus on issues of theology or of the divine. Humphreys goes one step further, reading God as a literary character in the book of Genesis. The opening chapters offer a helpful orientation into matters of literary characterization, and Humphreys' ensuing, synchronic treatment of the Genesis text highlights God's characterization from two sources: the narrator's own statements about God and what other characters have to say about God. Against this backdrop, the diversity and ever-changing role(s) of God are discussed: designer, destroyer, patron, parent, etc. And, as has perhaps become the norm in all of these volumes discussed here, while I do not agree with Humphreys' characterization of God in relation to the texts of deception, his careful attention to the non-static roles God plays throughout the text make this work an important one with which all students of Genesis should be acquainted. I will be posting a more thorough review of Humphreys in the next few weeks.
David M. Carr, Reading the Fractures of Genesis: Historical and Literary Approaches. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1996.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
In my view, anything by Brueggemann is going to be a worthy read. But all prejudices aside, this volume is by far one of the most honest assessments of the theological complexity within Genesis. Foundational for Brueggemann's treatment is that the Genesis narratives--the Jacob cycle included (contra Westermann)--are highly theological. In fact, one may say that for Brueggemann, Genesis says much more about God than it does about humanity. But what I am most appreciative for in this volume is the absolute candor of Brueggemann's understanding of God's character. For Brueggemann--and for myself--God is a "scandalous" challenge in the book of Genesis (and elsewhere in Scripture, I would venture). That the portrait of God is not 'white-washed' but rather allowed to stand in all its theological complexity makes this volume a wonderfully honest attempt to interpret the 'difficulties' of Genesis.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Friday, March 20, 2009
Here is the abstract for the paper:
In this study I set out to read Gen 25:23, YHWH's oracle to Rebekah, as a trickster oracle. I argue that one should not read it under the a priori assumption that it coheres with other narratives of inverted primogeniture elsewhere in Genesis. Rather, in light of Robert Alter's understanding of the biblical type-scene, what is seminal in understanding the oracle is how it differs from the convention of annunciation of birth elsewhere in Genesis.
Against this backdrop, the oracle is seen to be ambiguous in matters of diction/meaning, syntax, and context, which thus further impels the narrative's human characters--Rebekah and Jacob--to bring about their own interpretation of the divine will, which they succeed in doing by means of several deceptions. Against this backdrop, I contend that the final line in 25:23 is best translated "the greater will serve the lesser" rather than "the elder will serve the younger," which ultimately has implications for the entirety of the Jacob cycle, including the texts of deception.
With this pint in mind, I interpret two scenes of deception--Jacob's extorting the birthright from Esau (Gen 25:27-34) and the deception of Isaac (Gen 27:1-45)--in light of hte oracle. Givent he oracle's function, in all its vagueness, as an introduction to the entire Jacob cycle, God is both involved and complict in the deceptions in various ways. Corroborating this point is the Bethel theophany (Gen 28:10-22), in which Jacob receives the ancestral promise solely at YHWH's behest. And it is the perpetuation of this very promise, at times by deceptive measures, that is the principle concern of YHWH in Genesis.
In the end, the oracle does not appear ever to have been concerned with Jacob becoming the greater. Instead, he is the greater from the womb, a status substantiated through his cunning and shrewd characterization as opposed to the dimwitted and overly-dramatic Esau. A potential reason for why God has chosen such an individual, then, presents itself: God the Trickster selects Jacob because it is he, not Esau, who is a trickster from the very start.
Last year in Boston I presented two papers on the same day -- within about 3 hours of one another, actually (for those curious, they were "The Ancestral Covenant in Psalms 105 and 106: Their Function as the Conclusion to Book IV of the Psalter" in the Book of Psalms section, and "Jesus and the Patriarchs: The Imminent Fulfillment of the Ancestral Promise in Matt 8:5-13 in the Matthew section). Both went quite well; indeed, I plan to submit the Matthew paper for publication in May . . . suggestions? I look forward to a little lighter schedule this year.
Perhaps I will be fortunate enough to run into some fellow bibliobloggers. Keep me in the loop!
All the best!
Thursday, March 19, 2009
The Southwest area regional meeting of the SBL (or, Southwest Comission on Religious Studies [SWCRS]) held its annual meeting March 7-8 in Irving, Texas. It was a good, energizing meeting, and Baylor was well-represented. A .pdf of the program can be found here. Here is a brief rundown.
My paper, "A Trickster Oracle in Gen 25:23: Reading Jacob and Esau between Beten and Bethel," was first on the docket at the meeting on Saturday morning. I was pleased with the turnout: about 20-25 people. Despite my battling a cold, which my son was kind enough to share with me (I knew teaching him to share would have some negatives to go along with it!) I think the paper went quite well. No one running for the doors shouting "heresy," and no one tearing-apart my reading afterwards---both of which I consider victories! The comments during the Q&A session and afterwards were helpful. I was pleased to see the paper had engendered some thought and conversation. Victor Matthews from Missouri State University was also quite affirming; his article on Jacob the trickster in Perspectives in Religious Studies from 1985 has been a great help, and my forthcoming article on divine deception in the Jacob/Laban narratives interacts with it at several points (I do not, however, agree with Matthews' understanding of the Jacob cycle of stories, which I address in my article). I look forward, though, to further dialogue with him on the topic. I also had the opportunity to speak with another presenter in my section (Nate Lollar from Abilene Christian, whose paper on conversational dialogue in the Pentateuch was quite good) later in the book exhibit, and he expressed his sincere appreciation for my interpretation, for which I am grateful. But one of the greatest feelings--and this took me back to my time at Duke, so this may only make sense to some of you--was when during the reading of my paper at various points several people in the audience would say "mmmm" or "mmm hmm." For those that don't know, at Duke that meant you had said something poignant or insightful. For fear of asking and being proven wrong, I'll just assume it has that same meaning here in central Texas!
It was then off to the 'complimentary' plated lunch, and some bantering with fellow Baylorites before their upcoming papers. The next section I attended focused on the Book of Psalms, which both opened and closed with a paper by one of my colleagues at Baylor; a 'Baylor inclusio,' if I may. Roy Garton's paper on the death of the psalmist in Ps 88 continues to interest me, especially his positing of a specific, hypothetical Sitz im Leben for this psalm within the worship context of ancient Israel. I too find Psalm 88 to be a terribly dark, troubling text, and to be fair, Garton's emphasis was on the psalm itself, yet I still struggle with this psalm's meaning within the overall metanarrative of the Psalter. Gerald Wilson's seminal The Editing of the Hebrew Psalter poses a possibility for me, which I asked Roy about, namely that Ps 88 has a double superscription: of the sons of Korah, which connects it back to Ps 87, and with the ethnicity "Erzahite," connecting it forward to Ps 89. Understood in this way, the compilers of the final canonical Psalter--for which there is indeed a final organizing principle, I affirm--likely saw the same difficulties we do with the psalm, and in making these editorial connections attempted to 'soften' its impact. Ps 89 too, though, is a dark text, albeit with some light at least. And I cannot help but think of Wilson's work on the metanarrative of the Psalter's five books, and the extension of it by Nancy deClaisse-Walford's Introduction to the Psalms, both which see Book III as lamenting the Divided Monarchy and failure of Israelite kingship. It seems to me both darkness and hope would be endemic to such literature; and hope is certainly what one gets in Book IV, with its movement towards and emphasis on the ancestral covenant (Gen 12:1-3), which I presented a paper on at SBL in Boston this past November.
W. Dennis Tucker, Jr. from Baylor's Truett Seminary presented what I take to be the beginning of an inquiry into anti-imperial rhetoric in the first psalms of Book V (Pss 107-110). His reading is carrying forward Erich Zenger's reading of such tendencies elsewhere in the Psalter. I was struck by several aspects of Tucker's paper, especially the implications these tendencies have in informing with greater precision the date of formation for the canonical Psalter (prior to the first century CE, with the Qumran material).
I then went to hear a paper by another one of my Baylor colleagues on wisdom intensification in the Dead Sea Scrolls. From there I decided to hit up the book exhibit, which was quite empty at the time. In the end, I only bought one book, and it is one I had already read: The Quest for the Historical Israel, ed. Brian Schmidt (with essays by Israel Finkelstein and Amihai Mazar). I do, however, have a good-sized list for national in New Orleans!
That evening my wife, son, and I went out to eat, and then fell asleep about 9pm (my wife blames the overly-comfortable Marriott hotel bed, I attribute this to the fact that my 18 month old son was asleep about five feet away from us, and waking him up would not have been to our benefit!). Sunday morning I only heard one paper on the Psalms pesher from Qumran, which brought back fond memories of my work in the Nahum and Habakkuk pesharim a little over a year ago. I decided to take one final trip around the book exhibit, giving me the opportunity to talk one-on-one with some of the publishers there. The representatives from Fortress and Hendrickson were wonderful to speak with, and each was quite affirming and interested in the argument of my dissertation. I had a nice talk with Hendrickson also about one of two book projects with which I am helping my teacher, Dr. Bellinger.
All in all it was a very fine meeting, and getting my paper done right away on Saturday morning really helped me focus the rest of the day. Last year I did two papers within about two hours of one another, which was a nice mental exercise, especially given that one was in OT and the other in NT (yep, I'm bi-testamental). I look forward to next year's regional meeting, at which time I plan to be well into my dissertation and on the job hunt! Hoo-rah!
All the best!