Novak (novak) wrote,
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Theological Notebook: Joining the Society of Biblical Literature for the sake of the Odes of Solomon

Well, today I finally joined my first professional society. And the funny thing was, it was the Society of Biblical Literature!

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What, no one gets it?

The thing is, biblical studies is not my specialty. My background is historical, and I had long intended to do a degree in historical theology before ending up in Systematics, which you might call "current" or "contemporary" theology, or some call it "constructive theology." So the fact that I joined the SBL is kinda like if I were a doctor, specializing in neurosurgery, and the first professional group I joined was tbe one the OB/GYN docs join. It's just kinda odd. But then, my writing career has been kind of odd, with the things I'm crafting for publication being all over the map, including biblical and historical. The areas I really don't head into are moral theology/ethics, or liturgical theology.

The reason I've gone off and done this is that Andrei Orlov, my wunderkind friend who was hired right back by Marquette upon his graduation the other year and who taught me Apocalyptic Literature--and who I also just discovered is hereabouts as aorlov--has been very eager for me to present the paper I wrote for him to the SBL. What's particularly exciting on the professional level is that he wants me to do this at the big national meeting, and not the more local regional one. I discovered that I had to join the Society, though, and so that's what provoked this move on my part. I'm in the process of rewriting the thing, and I understand quite a bit more about where he wanted me to take the essay since I did my Biblical area Doctoral Qualifying Exam under him on the Jewish mystical roots to the Prologue to the Gospel of John. The new, tweaked paper's abstract that I submitted reads:
The Odes of Solomon: From Apocalypticism to Merkabah Mysticism

The Odes of Solomon are generally categorized among the early Jewish-Christian writings of Christian apocrypha. They are a lyrics-book of early Christian worship and praise songs, and give us a glimpse into the earliest stages of both Christian worship and developing Christian understandings about the recent advent of the Messiah. As a matter of genre, they are easily discussed in terms of liturgical texts, poetry, musical lyrics, and the like. This examination reveals that the Odes are filled with the themes of apocalyptic literature, despite the fact that they are almost never identified as apocalyptic in scholarship. Beyond that, this study of motifs within the text reveals that the Odes are best understood as a transitional text from apocalypticism to merkabah mysticism, as the apocalyptic content of the Odes merges into the other genre. This study then not only provides a new and more clear reading of the Odes themselves, but also contributes to an understanding of the relationship between apocalyptic literature and merkabah mysticism.
It's exciting to be a little more up on this material now, and to get--which I didn't, really, at the time--why he was so excited about my paper. As it turns out, showing a literary connection between these two areas, if that is indeed what I have done, may indeed be something of a discovery. It would be a sort of "missing link" kind of discovery, showing that even after nearly a century of possessing this text, its significance in the literary and spiritual evolution of these genres had been overlooked. I'll be reading it soon to our own regular Seminar on the Jewish Roots of Eastern Christian Mysticism, and I'm excited to see what the historians and biblical scholars do to it. I've been in love with the Odes since I discovered them in all their primitive, profound glory as an undergraduate. The chance that I might make a significant contribution to their understanding is really something I'd be proud of.
Ode 19

1. A cup of milk was offered to me, and I drank it in the sweetness of the Lord's kindness.
2. The Son is the cup, and the Father is He who was milked; and the Holy Spirit is She who milked Him;
3. Because His breasts were full, and it was undesirable that His milk should be ineffectually released.
4. The Holy Spirit opened Her bosom, and mixed the milk of the two breasts of the Father.
5. Then She gave the mixture to the generation without their knowing, and those who have received it are in the perfection of the right hand.
6. The womb of the Virgin took it, and she received conception and gave birth.
7. So the Virgin became a mother with great mercies.
8. And she labored and bore the Son but without pain, because it did not occur without purpose.
9. And she did not require a midwife, because He caused her to give life.
10. She brought forth like a strong man with desire, and she bore according to the manifestation, and she acquired according to the Great Power.
11. And she loved with redemption, and guarded with kindness, and declared with grandeur.
Hallelujah.
Tags: apocalyptic literature, biblical studies, books, historical, jewish mysticism, mysticism/spirituality, theological notebook, writing
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