Seminars

  • Founded
    1968
  • Seminar Number
    473

The seminar is composed of scholars of different faiths and traditions with a common interest in research and teaching of the Hebrew Bible. The focus of the seminar is research illuminating the cultural milieu, language, text, and interpretation of the Hebrew Bible. This research is characterized by a variety of methodologies, including historical-critical, literary, philological, archaeological, and sociological approaches to the text, as well as history of interpretation. Research on ancient near eastern cultures and languages relating to ancient Israel is also regularly presented.


Chair
Professor Liane Feldman
lmfeldman@nyu.edu

Rapporteur
David DeLauro
ddelauro@scholarsgateway.com


All seminars will meet over Zoom for the 2020-2021 academic year. Meeting links provided upon RSVP. Meeting dates and times are subject to change. 

Meeting Schedule

09/22/2020 Online Meeting
7:00 PM
Transformed, Reformed, Deformed: Acrostics and Radical Aesthetics
Elaine James, Princeton Theological Seminary
Abstract

Abstract

One of the most formally fixed types (or, we might say, conservative or traditional) among biblical poems is the acrostic. Form and content, in the case of the acrostic, offer a mutually reinforcing argument for conventionality—order of form mirrors order of content in their predominantly didactic material. Among the acrostics of the Hebrew Bible, the predominant form has the head word of each line or couplet follow sequentially the order of the alphabet. However, there are a couple of striking examples in which the acrostic form is radically expanded, namely Lamentations 3 and Psalm 119. These expansions might be usefully thought of as transformations, reformations, or deformations—each of which implies a different stance of the individual poem with respect to the larger tradition or genre. This essay argues that in these poems where form is transgressed, expanded, or challenged, the poetics of form takes on heightened significance and mobilizes the poem in service to very different aesthetic ends. These examples suggest that forms themselves serve as sites of aesthetic exploration for ancient poets, offering both constraints and opportunities for novel technique and insight.





10/13/2020 Online Meeting
7:00 PM
Black Samson: A Conversation with the Authors
Nyasha Junior, Temple University

Jeremy Schipper, Temple University
Abstract

Abstract

Nyasha Junior and Jeremy Schipper are the co-authors of Black Samson: The Untold Story of an American Icon (Oxford University Press, 2020). Join us for a wide-ranging conversation about their work, the process of co-authoring, and the field of biblical studies.




11/10/2020 Online Meeting
7:00 PM
Job between Corporeality and Monstrosity
Madadh Richey, Princeton University
Abstract

Abstract

The Hebrew Bible is full of images of faulty corporeality, but nowhere are marginal and abject bodies referred to so frequently as in the book of Job. Throughout his speeches, the titular character repeatedly insists on his bodily decomposition. “My skin blackens and peels off me,” he says at the climax of a final discourse on his physical collapse, “My bones burn with heat” (Job 30:30). In Job, such processes and their outcomes are often highly marked, with lexical complexity abounding and homophony occasionally deployed to juxtapose medical and social processes of abjection, e.g. in Job 7:5, “My flesh is clothed in worms and clods of dust. My skin hardens(?) and then liquifies” (cp. Ps 58:8), or “is rejected.” In this paper, I read Job’s decomposition narratives as doing two things: first, indexing the book’s complex anxieties about Yahweh’s sovereignty over death, life, and the space between these; and second, serving as one pole in a book-wide rhetorical conflict between human and divine. While Job invokes his decay as a central witness in the case against his god (e.g. Job 16:8), the whirlwind speech (Job 38–41) directs Job’s attention to other monstrous bodies and thereby claims not only that monsters are a sign of Yahweh’s power, but that Job himself has been such a monstrous sign.





12/08/2020 Online Meeting
7:00 PM
Demonizing Daimones? Septuagintal Data for Second Temple Jewish Demonology
Annette Reed, New York University
Abstract

Abstract

This talk revisits the question of the shifting meaning of daimon and related Greek terms among Jews in the Second Temple period, attempting to situate its usage within specific Septuagintal texts in relation to Aramaic and Hebrew evidence for the development of Jewish demonology, especially from the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Aramaic Jewish literature of the early Hellenistic age.





01/26/2021 Online Meeting
7:00 PM
Between Biography and Reception in Ezra-Nehemia and Ezra traditions
Hindy Najman, Oxford University (England, UK)
Abstract

Abstract

The Ezra we read of has been imagined and re-imagined in ways that are dramatic but also retrospectively compelling. Ezra is created and recreated through later expansion of his biography, achievement, and character. Moreover, there is also a scribal legacy of insight, understanding and recreation which become formative for ancient Judaism. The performative, mimetic and scribal practices of copying, translation, and new composition become emblematic not only for how Ezra was remembered but also for who Ezra came to be.





02/16/2021 Online Meeting
7:00 PM
Involuntary “Wife” or Conjugal Slave? The “Forced Marriage” of Deut 21:10-14
Brian Rainey, Princeton Theological Seminary
Abstract

Abstract

For many interpreters, both scholarly and traditional, Deuteronomy 21:10-14 prescribes regulations for “marrying” a woman from an enemy nation recently defeated in war. Some readers—especially those coming from feminist or womanist perspectives—have criticized this focus because it often, in effect, romanticizes or downplays the sexual violence in the passage. This talk argues that modern human rights discussions about “forced marriage” as a crime against humanity can open new avenues for interpreting Deut 21:10-14. There is a debate in international law about whether “forced marriage” should be considered a form of slavery (especially sexual slavery) or its own unique kind of war atrocity. The language of matrimony, the assumptions of gender hierarchy held by perpetrators and victims, and contention over the very definition of slavery often complicate how to classify forced marriage as a profound human rights violation (though all agree that it is). Paying close attention to the wording of Deut 21:10-14, I argue that far from being an anachronistic imposition on the ancient text, the modern human rights discussion can inform to how to frame and interpret the prescriptions, rituals and interdictions of the passage.





03/23/2021 Online Meeting
7:00 PM

Yael Landman, Gorgias Press




04/20/2021 Online Meeting
7:00 PM

Philip Yoo, University of Texas Austin