1st June 2005
The Tuesday Hebrew Bible session of the CSBS had a variety of papers loosely focused on the Writings.
The morning started off with an interesting paper by Arthur Walker-Jones from the University of Winnipeg. In his paper, “Myth Criticism of the Psalms,” he used Northrop Frye’s approach to myth to explore the individual laments.
Next was yours truly (Tyler F. Williams). I presented a paper on “The Psalm Superscriptions and the Composition of the Book of Psalms.” Focusing primarily on the Greek translation of the Psalter, I examined the additions and expansions in the LXX and found that the large majority of quantitative changes in the superscripts are the result of inner-Greek tradition history (rather than reflecting a different Hebrew Vorlage). I will post further on this paper in the near future.
The third paper of the morning was by another Edmontonian, Ehud Ben Zvi, from the University of Alberta. He looked at the Chronicler’s account of Amaziah in 2 Chronicles 25, focusing particularly at the claims advanced in the text itself rather than addressing any historical questions. His was a very interesting paper that explored time construction and periodization in the passage as well as many other features.
After a brief break we heard a paper by David Shepherd (currently of Briercrest College, but moving to Dublin to take up the role of principal of Dublin Bible College August 1) entitled, “‘Strike his bone and his flesh’: Reading Job 2 from the Beginning.” David presented a provocative interpretation of Job 2:5 (“his bone and his flesh”) in which he built a strong argument that rather than this statement being self-referential, it refers to Job’s wife. One challenge — among others — with this interpretation is taking × Ö·×¤×©×?×•Ö¹ (naphsho; translated as “his life” in the NRSV) in verse 6 as referring to his wife.
The fifth paper of the morning was presented by Derek Suderman of Emmanuel College (Toronto). His paper, “Towards an Improved Description of Biblical Prayer: Form-Critical Approaches to Direct Address in Psalm 55,” focused specifically on the shift in address in the psalm (rather than thematic changes).
The last (but by no means least) paper of this year’s Hebrew Bible sessions was by John Van Seters, now residing in Waterloo, ON. His paper, “The Myth of the ‘Final Form’ of the Biblical Text,” was perhaps the most provocative paper read this year. A preview of his forthcoming Eisenbrauns’ book, The Edited Bible: The Curious History of the “Editor” in Biblical Criticism, Van Seters attempted to dismantle the notion of “editor” in ancient texts as well as the idea that there was ever a “final form” of any biblical text. While Van Seters had a number of good points about some anachronistic concepts that have crept into biblical studies, I have to admit that ultimately I was not persuaded by his paper. To be fair, I’ll have to take a look at his book to get his full argument.