Monday, August 04, 2008

2008 CBA Meeting at Fordham University, Post 2

I'm having a very full day here at Fordham University at the 71st International Meeting of the Catholic Biblical Association. Let me post a few highlights.

Last night at the general session we heard Bishop Emil Wcela speak on "What's Catholic about a Catholic Translation of the Bible?" A very good question for any denomination to ask about its biblical scholarship; and the bishop spoke in very polite but quite open and easily deciphered language. Somewhat to everyone's surprise and dissappointment, a lot of the talk was about the difficulties the officials in Rome raised on the US desire to have inclusive language. All this ado about "he, He, he"? "Si, si, si," is the reply in Italian. It was also interesting to hear how the officials at the Vatican are now pushing strongly for wooden/literal translation of the Bible, rather than dynamic equivalence translation.

After a good night's sleep, I went back to the Continuing Seminar on Divinity in Ancient Israel. This morning we discussed Paul Niskanen's paper on the biblical metaphor of YHWH's Marriage to Israel. Lot's of interesting discussion, some of it pressing Paul on being more specific about how ancient marriage differs from modern, Western concepts of marriage. One point that I made that several agreed with is that it is too simple to say that Hosea came up with the metaphor fresh in the 8th century. Antecedents in the E source already depict Israel as an adulterous wife at Exod 32:20, where Moses has Israel participate in the ordeal/trial reserved for adulteresses. In response to more than one question, Paul rightly stressed the inherent limits of metaphor for expressing lived realities. He also rightly notes that the tenor often bleeds into the metaphorical language. For example, in Ezek 22:20-21, we have God as an angry smith, heating metal in "the fire of my wrath." Of course, the smith is not the one angry with the metal for having impurities. The element of anger is from the tenor---God is angry with Judah.

Next, from 11am to 12 noon, I gave my talk in the plenary session---here called a simultaneous session, because there is an OT plenary and a NT plenary held simultaneously. I've got many wonderful comments. Lots of great people in attendance, including Gary Anderson, Mark Smith, John Levenson, William Morrow and many many others. It was a real honor to have been invited to give the talk, and I am so glad people found it so stimulating. Did I mention the title: "The Isaiah School, The Pentateuch's Aaronide Source, and Their Shared Theology of Reverence."

Next up at 4pm is the Business Meeting... More later...


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