The first day of meetings of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies were held on Sunday. Here are some highlights.
Hebrew Bible Session Highlights
The papers in this first session were excellent, IMHO. Here are my thoughts on select papers:
Keith Bodner (who is leaving Tyndale University College and heading out east this summer to join the faculty of Atlantic Baptist University) presented a witty and engaging paper entitled, “The Fellowship of the King: Some Remarks on a Formative Interaction.” I couldn’t think of a better way to start the day! Keith always gives entertaining and informative papers. Based on a close rereading of 1 Samuel 9, Keith highlighted the narrative conflict between Prophet and King (Samuel and Saul) in this early passage — a conflict that would characterize Saul’s turbulent reign. One of the points that I appreciated was his characterization of the girls’ speech in 1 Sam 9:11-13 as confused language (following Rendsburg’s article, “Confused Language as a Deliberate Literary Device in Biblical Hebrew Narrative,” JHS 2:6 ). In addition, Keith argued that Saul’s inability to follow the girls’ instructions (in that he didn’t just go up and find the seer, but he asked where the seer’s house was even though the girls told him he was visiting) foreshadows his inability to follow directions. Marie-France Dion from Concordia University read a paper on the same passage entitled “Who was Samuel to Saul.” In contrast to Keith’s literary approach, Dion presented a source-critical analysis of the passage, arguing that 9:1-2a, 13a, 15-16, 17b, 20-21, 27b; 10:5b-6, 8-9, 10b-13 are secondary additions to the ur-text.
Gary N. Knoppers , from Pennsylvania State University, read a paper entitled, “‘Give Me that Old-time Religion’: The Revival of Israelite Religion in Postexilic Samaria.” While Gary didn’t break out into song, he did highlight the multi-vocal nature of the passage describing the end of the northern kingdom of Israel in 2 Kings 17. On the one hand, this passage presents the cultis of the remaining and imported inhabitants of the northern kingdom positively, when after being punished by Yahweh with the lion attacks (v. 25), they are instructed in “old-time (northern) religion” by a repatriated priest so that the lion attacks stop (vv. 26-28). Thus, the very sins that condemn the original northerners, saves the new settlers! On the other hand, the passage goes on in the rest of the chapter to criticize the same people for their abandonment of Yahweh as if they were the original covenant people (but they — or at least the majority of them — are not). Gary takes these differing perspectives to suggest that the DtrH is not the product of a monolithic school, but preserves diverse perspectives on the northern kingdom. Thus this passage is not quite the anti-Samaritan polemic that many scholars think it is.
The last paper in the morning session was from my good friend (hmm… I also consider Gary to be a good friend) Mark Boda of McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton. He presented on “Freeing the Burden of Prophecy:מַשָּׂא(massa’) and the Legitimacy of Prophecy in Zechariah 9-14.” In this paper Mark debunked the notion that the Hebrew term מַשָּׂא (massa’) is best understood as “burden” since it doesn’t only introduce negative prophecies. The term is also not a genre tag that introduces an exposition of a previously communicated expression of the divine will as Richard Weis suggests in his 1986 Claremont dissertation. In contrast, Mark demonstrated that the term can introduce and type of prophetic oracle and its use in Zechariah 9:1, 12:1 and Malachi 1:1 represents a renewal of prophecy in response to Jeremiah’s earlier prohibition in Jer 23:33-40.
Knoppers’ 1 Chronicles Commentary Honoured
At the annual banquet Sunday night Dr. Gary Knoppers won the R.B.Y. Scott Book Award for his Anchor Bible Commentary on 1 Chronicles. This award is for an outstanding book in the area of Hebrew Bible or Ancient Near Eastern studies by a member of the CSBS. I couldn’t think of a better book or person to receive this prestigious award. Well done, Gary!
I highly recommend Gary’s commentary on 1 Chronicles:
- Knoppers, Gary N. I Chronicles 1-9: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. Anchor Bible. Doubleday, 2004. Buy from Amazon.ca | Buy from Amazon.com
- Knoppers, Gary N. I Chronicles 10-29: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. Anchor Bible. Doubleday, 2004. Buy from Amazon.ca | Buy from Amazon.com