There was another excellent Hebrew Bible session Monday morning. I had the honor of hearing papers from two former students (Ken Ristau and Tim Goltz) who are both in doctoral programs (Ken at Penn State and Tim at McGill). Here are some highlights:
Tim Goltz (a doctoral student at McGill University) presented a paper entitled “Two Rhetorical Methods for Two Historical Audiences: Reading and Hearing Texts in Ancient Israel” in which he provided an excellent survey of rhetorical approaches to the Hebrew Bible. He organized them in two general approaches: rhetoric as the art of composition (aka the “Muilenberg” school with Lundbom, Trible, and Sternberg) and rhetoric as the art of persuasion (Patrick, Scult, and Duke).
Ken Ristau (a doctoral student at Pennsylvania State University) presented a compelling paper on the Chronicler’s Josiah called “Of Prophets and Monarchs: The Death of Josiah in Chronicles.” Ken argued that the presentation of Josiah in Chronicles lacks the typical joy and blessing that one would expect in Chronicles and that his death is presented ironically. Furthermore, while Josiah’s reforms are presented as the consummation of the Davidic promise, his death marks its end. (Perhaps Ken will provide a more detailed summary on his blog?)
There were a couple of rather entertaining papers in the morning that shared a similar intertextual method. Christine Mitchell (St. Andrew’s College, Sask) linked Haggai and Saskatoon in her paper “Temperance, Temples and Colonies: Reading the Book of Haggai in Saskatoon” while James Linville (University of Lethbridge) went down the rabbit hole and explored “Bugs Through the Looking Glass: The Infestation of Meaning in Joel.” Christine’s paper drew some interesting parallels between the founding of Saskatoon as a temperance colony and Persian period Yehud — particularly how they both were “charter groups” supported by outsiders (in Toronto and Persia, respectively).
Rounding out the morning were papers by Robert Culley (McGill University) and R. Glenn Wooden (Acadia Divinity College). Culley’s presentation on the individual laments (“Reading the Complaints of the Individual”) drew from his lifetime of studying the psalms. After discussing his take on genre (which focuses more on Gunkel’s form rather than Sitz im Leben) and traditional language in the psalms, he worked through a number of laments (Psalms 3, 7, 88, and 22). He summed up his paper emphasizing the importance of considering both the generic elements of the psalms (the group) as well as the unique features of any given psalm (the individual). Glen’s paper, “Daniel against the wise-men: the nuanced use of wisdom terms in Daniel 1-2,” argued, among other things, that the term משׂכלים (mskylym) as used in Daniel separates Daniel and his friends from the other wise men.
All in all there were some interesting sessions on Monday.