Post 3 from the 2008 CBA Meetings
I received this lovely email about my talk from Prof. Jenny Knust, a NT scholar now teaching at Boston University, and it is so nice that I told her I would post it here:
I think the thing I loved the most about your talk was the generosity and openness at its core, which was reflected so beautifully in your reading of the RS's theology.
Listening to your account of this theology, I was struck by how similar it is to something I've been thinking about lately, after re-reading Levinas and Judith Butler's book Precarious Life. Of course, Butler in particular would not acknowledge that she is a theologian, but I think she is. And she has a theology similar to the RS's as you described it. One should behave ethically not because of the law or because it is one's duty but because one has recognized that vulnerability and mortality are the most important truths of the human condition. We are all vulnerable, we are all finite, we are all fragile and no amount of hoarding, violence, law or control will change this. Nice. I thought I didn't like theologies stressing the distance and complete otherness of God, but I guess I'm changing my mind.
One other thing: If the material I study can lend anything to what you are doing, I would say that it is not important that Ezra and Nehemiah don't quote 2 Isaiah or acknowledge him/them in anyway. As I see it, there are preliminary questions that have to be asked: How did ancient people quote? How did they acknowledge their sources? Was it important to acknowledge one's contemporary conversation partners? The NT authors were all writing around the same period of time and they hardly ever directly acknowledge one another (which creates a huge problem for scholars now--Did John know Mark? Did Luke-Acts know Paul? etc. etc.). We may be trained to cite one another in footnotes, but ancients were not.
Thanks so much for a great paper!