Yesterday was the first session of this year's meetings of the Seminar on the Jewish Roots of Eastern Christian Mysticism, with Professor William Kurz, S.J., one of our senior biblical scholars, speaking on "Mary: Woman and Mother in God's Saving New Testament Plan," which was a theological and canon-critical reading of Mary in the New Testament, built off of, but not limited to, a historical-critical approach to the New Testament, in the manner described in his and Luke Timothy Johnson's The Future of Catholic Biblical Scholarship: A Constructive Conversation. This was a look at a forthcoming article that provoked some interesting discussion afterward, mostly on the Jewish lines typical of the Seminar, such as looking at the imagery tying Mary to the Ark of the Covenant/Mercy Seat. One thing that grabbed my attention was his addressing Luke's repeated meditations on the theme of Mary "pondering in her heart" the events of Jesus' conception, birth and life. He speculated this repeated theme as being an indication that Luke bears a Marian-inspired theology of the Incarnation, or a Marian tradition of interpretation. This was an idea I'd never heard before, particularly in contrast to the ancient tradition of Luke as an interpreter of Paul, and so I thought it would be interesting to re-read Luke with that question in mind and to see if it seems to work.
Talking with him afterward, he mentioned that he had written me a very strong letter of recommendation, reporting my gifts and reputation as a teacher as unique among graduate students. That was kind of flooring to hear words so generous, and I couldn't help but be incredibly gratified. So I certainly hope that that could help me get over the "paper hump" and to the first-stage interviews at the American Academy of Religion in Chicago next month.