Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Blogging In

Well - I never really blogged out - my alter-bloggo did. But I will blog in - just enough to say that my wife, Diana, and I have returned safe and sound if a little saturated from SBL. I cannot count the number of papers I heard - somewhere around 30. I expect them to inform a few comments for me on the psalms over the next several months, and also to inform a few story fragments for the deaf Secundus on the gospels.

It was good to meet several e-acquaintances in the flesh. Now connected are at least some names and forms. On my way home, puddle jumping from San Diego to San Francisco to Vancouver to Victoria, I asked Rikk Watts about what an old man should do. He said - "Go sailing. On your death bed you won't be lamenting that you didn't do another 100 hours of Hebrew study!" Diana agreed. And as for me, I don't imagine I will be thinking about sailing either. Who knows the time of his departure? Suffer us not for any pains of death to fall from thee. But an equally suitable question: Who can say on what errand the insolent emu walks between morning and night on the edge of the plain?

If I can, I will continue the pursuit of my joy which is to communicate with those ancient poets and their first century readers. What SBL taught me is the extent of my ignorance, but that is no more depressing than my usual unnecessary worries.

I started out Friday afternoon with April DeConick on the New Testament Mysticism Project Seminar. For me, the initial subject continued the lectionary from the previous week (Luke 20:27-38 - the Sadducees and the resurrection and parallels). I thought this was a happy co-incidence. I remember that still small voice saying to me 5 days earlier - pay attention - and look up the parallels. O yes, I thought, I remember this is where you said that they know neither the scriptures nor the power of God (omitted by Luke). I expect Secundus may get to this reflection sooner than later. He will also benefit from hearing the discussion over Bauckham's Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, and a forum on John where I picked up Mary Coloe's second book, Dwelling in the Household of God. In spite of Rikk's advice, I read some of this on the plane and I really like where she is going with the intense symbolism and extended metaphor in John of the Marriage customs in the first century. The consummation of my death in the Bridegroom of blood is dowry and promise, and the dowry (the Spirit) reverts to me if the engagement is broken off. Not only is God bound to us by this self gift, but the Spirit is given without reservation because God in this New Creation has no need to repent. All this is lost in the move from Hebrew נחמ (naham, repent - used of God only, sigh, comfort) to Greek Paraclete (Comforter, Advocate) to English - just consider the word play.

Two papers by Jewish scholars stood out for me: Joshua Berman on Lamentations 1 as the Drama of Spiritual Rehabilitation. His translation of מְנַחֵם as the Comforter (his capital) was a surprise to me. But I see that the JPS version translates it with definite article but without the capital. It is such a direct connection to John's Gospel. But that may just be my own short-circuiting thought process. The second paper was on Psalm 119 by Naama Zahavi-Eli who pointed out that the words used only once in Psalm 119 are 50% of the text and they are commonly repeated words in non-poetic sections of Scripture. It may be that poetry statistics are important both for repetition and for unique uses also.

I took in most of the groups on Psalms and Biblical Poetry. My last paper was Monday evening, delivered by John Hobbins on Parallelism in Ancient Hebrew Verse - a Review of Recent and Ongoing Research. But I missed one of John's papers - the one on teaching Hebrew. I will cite the papers that impact analysis of the Psalms as I review the subject psalms. One by Jinkyu Kim, Strategic Arrangement of Royal Psalms in the last two Books of the Psalter, has some potential to help organize the psalms table of contents.

No comments: