Changing Perspectives in Old Testament Studies. Past, Present, and Future
International Conference at the University of Copenhagen, October 9-12, 2013
The conference centres on the manifold contributions to biblical studies by the scholars, John Van Seters, Thomas L. Thompson, Philip R. Davies, Niels Peter Lemche and Keith Whitelam. In various ways their work has significantly changed the perspectives of Old Testament scholarship and has influenced the outlook and methods of biblical studies and related disciplines in the course of the last 50 years.
Van Seters, Thompson, Davies and Lemche will participate as key note speakers at the conference, which will include a number of papers within fields related to their achievements in Hellenistic studies, theories of composition, theories of history, anthropology, archaeology, Ancient Near Eastern religion and comparative literature, Dead Sea texts and cultural memory studies. The aim of the conference is to assess some of the major changes within the field of Old Testament scholarship, to investigate those changing perspectives within a broader context and to suggest future prospects of the discipline. Each participant is expected to present and discuss the challenge of these new perspectives for his or her core area of research.
Lectures will be 40 minutes for keynote speakers and 20 minutes for regular papers.
The opening lecture will be given by Prof. Jack Sasson, Vanderbilt University.
Papers will be published in A.K. de H. Gudme and I. Hjelm (eds.), Changing Perspectives in Old Testament Studies. Past, Present, and Future. International Conference at the University of Copenhagen, October 9-12, 2013 (CIS, Equinox).
It’s going to be fantastic fun. As my paper comes together I’ll post snippets, but you’ll just have to wait for the Conference volume for the whole thing.
Two volumes have recently arrived in the Copenhagen International Seminar series ‘Changing Perspectives’ and available from ISD here in the States and from Acumen in Britain/Europe. The first by Niels Peter Lemche and the second by Thomas Thompson. These volumes contain essays by their authors spanning the multiple-decades of their scholarly activity and reading through them, Wirkungsgeschichte style, one gets a very fine overview of where they’ve been, where they’ve journeyed, and where they are now.
As a whole the series is grand and the latest volumes continue that tradition. It is, I have to say, very, very rewarding to be involved (on the editorial board) of such a fine series. Very rewarding indeed.
I trust that you’ll take a look at these books. They’re a joy to behold.
In Bible and Interpretation.
… when it comes to history, especially Friedman seems to have little understanding of what is going on in modern historical research. His introduction here of post-modernism as the background of minimalism is simply nonsense as shown a long time ago by other scholars not belonging to this circle (James Pasto in SJOT, among others). Minimalism arose really as a modern response to wrong interpretations of historical evidence, and that in a very modern way.
Let me say a word about my friend Niels Peter because sometimes I think people may take his Nordic directness and ‘no-nonsense’ prose as ‘rude’ or ‘impolite’. He certainly has been accused of those things but it’s just not the case that he is.
He is simply direct and to the point. That’s all. His various works should be read in a neutral tone of voice, not in an angry one or an impolite one. He’s merely stating the facts as he sees them and in all honesty he’s usually pretty right.
To be sure, he doesn’t need me to defend him and in all honesty I’m not- I’m simply trying to explain him to those who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting this really excellent person. What you take for gruffness is just simple Danish brevity. I know. I’ve spent time with him in Copenhagen and at his farm in Sweden and we have been friends for many years. Trust me. You would like him were you ever to meet him, even if you don’t agree with his viewpoint.
Richard Friedman has today responded to Lemche’s essay of yesterday in Bible and Interpretation. In a word, he didn’t like it (but surely no one thought he would), concluding-
Enough of this “scholarship” that needs to include aspersions against the objectivity of other scholars, even when agreeing that their central point in an article was right.
At Bible and Interpretation, Lemche writes
Every history is an invented history, or a society’s cultural memory. When there are more groups than one present within a given community, we may reckon with more than one cultural memory. In a time of conflict the victors will decide which memory is the “correct” one and it will be written in textbooks and taught in schools. The historian might want to protest, as he insists that he knows the correct version, but memories cannot be controlled by professional historians who don’t pay much attention to historical “facts.”
You’ll doubtlessly enjoy it all.
Coming soon from Gorgias Press-
Cultural memory is a way of dealing with the past in social and cultural life. It transposes the notion of memory as individuals’ negotiation and representation of past experience into the collective and cultural area. Cultural memory is the shared reproduction and recalling of what has been learned and retained, normally treated as “the cultural heritage”. It also involves transformation and innovation. As opposed to individual memory, it brings social institutions and power to play. The notion of location and space (Landscape, ethnoscape, mental maps) is a major contributing factor in making the fragmented retrieved past a coherent whole. Cultural memories appear as palimpsests of material artifacts (including buildings and monuments), text, pictures and ritual practice. Especially relevant is the negotiation of cultural memory between local identity and global culture in this area. The purpose of this book is to study how memory is inscribed and embodied in biblical culture and its surrounding area. When dealing with a new field in research several questions appear, such as those dealing with previous approaches relevant for the cultural memory research: i.e. historiography, folklore, tradition history. We need to join forces to open new gates to cultural memory in biblical and cognate studies, and to include a plethora of methods and perspectives in present research. Such collaborative efforts will support the much needed reflection on the relationship between cultural memory approach and post-colonialism, globalism and epistemology.
Edited by Pernille Carstens
Edited by Trine Hasselbalch
Edited by Niels Peter Lemche
Contribution by Izaak Hulster
Contribution by Dolores Kamrada
Contribution by Rüdiger Schmitt
Contribution by Terje Stordalen
Contribution by David J. Chalcraft
Contribution by Sandra Hübenthal
Contribution by John Van Seters
Contribution by Ehud Ben Zvi
Contribution by Johannes Schnocks
Contribution by Emmanuel Nathan
Contribution by Ida Fröhlich
Contribution by Philip Davies
Today marks the birth anniversary of that brilliant, gutsy, pugilistic, and uncompromising scholar of the Hebrew Bible, Niels Peter Lemche.
Surely you know his work. Surely you must. And if you don’t, well now, you must familiarize yourself! Off with you then- go buy and read one of his many informative and provocative publications.
And until you do, here are some slides of my friend and his environment:
(Photos are copyright me, and may not be reused or duplicated in any way)