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MemberJacqueline Vayntrub

Interests Hebrew Bible; wisdom literature; instruction transmission; biblical poetry and poetics; philology; the history of biblical scholarship. I founded the Philology in Hebrew Studies program unit, which I now co-chair with David Lambert, and chair the Hebrew Bible, History, and Archaeology program unit at the Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting. I am an editor of Studies in Cultural Contexts of the Bible, a new English, German, and French language monograph series with Brill. Together with David Lambert, Eva Mroczek, and Laura Quick, I run Renewed Philology, an international working group of scholars in biblical studies whose work reflects critically on the intellectual frameworks of the reader that are brought to bear in philological practice. Research My research focuses on the formation of the Hebrew Bible, its various genres and modes of discourse against the broader background of ancient Near Eastern literary production, and its reception in and impact on Western scholarship. Broadly, my work seeks to recover the values of ancient literary culture through the language of the texts and examines how these values were reshaped in their reception. On my first book: “Central to understanding the prophecy and prayer of the Hebrew Bible are the unspoken assumptions that shaped them–their genres. Modern scholars describe these works as ‘poetry,’ but there was no corresponding ancient Hebrew term or concept. Scholars also typically assume it began as “oral literature,” a concept based more in evolutionist assumptions than evidence. Is biblical poetry a purely modern fiction or is there a more fundamental reason why its definition escapes us? Beyond Orality: Biblical Poetry on its Own Terms changes the debate by showing how biblical poetry has worked as a mirror, reflecting each era’s own self-image of verbal art. Yet Vayntrub also shows that this problem is rooted in a crucial pattern within the Bible itself: the texts we recognize as “poetry” are framed as powerful and ancient verbal performances, dramatic speeches from the past. The Bible’s creators presented what we call poetry in terms of their own image of the ancient and the oral, and understanding their native theories of Hebrew verbal art gives us a new basis to rethink our own.” See the book on the Routledge page. A special offer of the book at the Yale Divinity School Bookstore can be found here. My next book is currently underway. Reframing Biblical Poetry (under contract with Yale University Press in the Anchor Bible Reference Library series), takes the central insight of my first book—that poetry’s narrative and non-narrative frames shape its meaning—to present fresh readings of well known texts. The book has three sections, where I will explore how poetry is framed by narrative, in character voices; how poetry is arranged in anthology, not in a character’s voice, but by the names and personages of legendary characters; and how some of these ideas manifest as literary features. Yet another project involves theorizing  knowledge transmission and its gendered dimensions through the lens of human mortality. For what will eventually be a book, tentatively titled Seeking Eternity: Transmission and Mortal Anxiety in Biblical Literature, I have already produced a number of essays examining the depiction of lineage and succession as strategies for transcending individual death in wisdom and narrative texts. One article forthcoming in the Pardee Festschrift, entitled “Transmission and Mortal Anxiety in the Tale of Aqhat,” shows how the Ugaritic tale of Aqhat constructs a father-daughter alternative to succession. A second forthcoming essay in a collected volume, “Ecclesiastes and The Problem of Transmission in Biblical Literature,” examines Ecclesiastes against ancient Near Eastern instruction and Platonic dialogues, recovering an ancient question about the stability of transmission: Is speech reliable when it is detached from the living speaker’s voice? A third essay, forthcoming in a volume on Ben Sira, “Wisdom in Transmission: Rethinking Ben Sira and Proverbs,” re-examines the evolutionary framework in the study of biblical wisdom literature, and presents an alternative framework, in which instruction can be read as a discourse of trans-generational survival. A fourth essay, “Like Father, Like Son: Theorizing Transmission in Biblical Literature,” forthcoming in an issue of the journal Hebrew Bible Ancient Israel, considers how literary techniques such as “command and fulfillment” manifest broader social and intellectual values and can give us hints as to what biblical authors understood by “transmission” in their depiction of the passage of objects, responsibility, instruction, and text from one generation to the next. These inquiries also intellectually situate the text editions I am currently producing with Matthew Suriano for the SBL Writings of the Ancient World Series, Hebrew and Aramaic Writings about the Dead from Judah and Judea: Eighth cent. BCE through First cent. BCE.

MemberMatthew Suriano

Matthew Suriano is an Associate Professor in the Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Maryland. His research focuses on the history and culture of ancient Israel through the integration of biblical literature, Northwest Semitic inscriptions, and the archaeology of the Levant. He received his PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures. Research Interests Hebrew Bible; death, burial, and the afterlife; ancient inscriptions; kingship and royal historiography; the archaeology of the Levant.  

MemberIan Wilson

I am a scholar of religion, specializing in the Hebrew Bible and the histories and cultures of ancient Israel and the Near East. At the University of Alberta’s Augustana Campus, I teach introductory courses on the religions of the world and theories of religion, biblical studies and the ancient Near East, and related topics; I also serve as Director of the Chester Ronning Centre for the Study of Religion and Public Life. My work, in research and in the classroom, has focused mainly on how communities remember and imagine themselves, and how different social memories and imaginaries interrelate with one another. My first monograph, Kingship and Memory in Ancient Judah (Oxford University Press, 2017), explores these processes through the texts of the Hebrew Bible, revealing how ancient Judeans balanced and navigated various and even competing understandings of their monarchic past, with their literature. In 2018, the book won the R.B.Y. Scott Award from the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies. My research has also appeared in peer-reviewed publications such as Brill Research PerspectivesHarvard Theological Review, Vetus Testamentum, and Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft; and I co-edited the volume History, Memory, Hebrew Scriptures: A Festschrift for Ehud Ben Zvi (Penn State University Press / Eisenbrauns, 2015).