Novak (novak) wrote,

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Theological Notebook/Personal: Working on the Odes of Solomon

It's been an interesting few days of time-traveling back to the first century. I've been re-immersing myself in The Odes of Solomon, a set of later first century song lyrics that comprises one of our earliest (perhaps the earliest) Christian texts that we possess outside of the New Testament. I've had a thing for these since I discovered them late in college, and to this day I can remember reading these at a slow moment in work at the Main Information Desk at Founders Memorial Library in DeKalb, with my jaw starting to hang open in wonder as I read Ode 19 for the first time. I'm now in the work of revising my article on the Odes for Vigiliae Christianae, but wanting to experience that full "re-immersion" into the texts themselves before working on the technical matters of revision requested by the editor.

One of the requests I had received was to look back at some of James Charlesworth's work on the Odes, including familiarizing myself with the new edition of the text he published last year. (Curiously enough, that request was made even before the text had been published, leading me to suspect that my reader in this case was a student of Charlesworth or someone in his circle.) I just received my copy of The Earliest Christian Hymnbook: The Odes of Solomon in the mail the other day, and it really is a handsome volume. I am hoping that, as part of this wider effort at popularization and liturgical re-appropriation, The Odes Project, that this accessible text does make an impact on wider Christian imagination and spirituality. Julian of Norwich arose from historical obscurity in the 20th century to become a significant figure/text in popular Christian spirituality, and I hope that people can make use of the Odes in the same way.

Charlesworth's opening essay is quite useful, even on an academic level, particularly for his listing of cross-text influences, allusions or echoes. Although the essay is intended as a popular introduction (and works as such), it does reveal a lifetime's reading of other material of the era that I certainly have yet to equal. I particularly found welcome his sensitivity to differences between ancient Hebrew (Dead Sea Scrolls) and Greek versions of the Old Testament, and ways in which the Odes seems to draw upon these. I'll pass this copy over to Mike when I'm done with it, as he's doing work in the Odes as well for part of his dissertation in Name Christology (Christology where the idea of "the Name" of God is the paramount motif: a significant early Jewish mode of thinking).

I've been doing some of this reading sitting over next to what I've come to think of as "Haley's roses," since they burst forth in recent days, although the rain we've been getting on and off here in Milwaukee hasn't helped that. But that had certainly gotten me mindful of Haley and the rest of the nieces, who I haven't talked to since my graduation party. I'll see them next week when I go down to babysit, and I spoke to Grace briefly today when I called Leslie to catch up on the news. Sophie took the phone for a minute or two, too, but apparently only nodded in response to my asking if she was there on the phone, and so her gab talents are apparently a bit faded. I expect I'll get more energy out of them when I visit in the flesh. I've been meaning to get a hold of Joe all week, too, and to hear that news and some of Nate's gabble, but no luck on remembering to do so during the mornings before Joe heads in for work.
Tags: books, christology, jewish mysticism, judaism, mysticism/spirituality, patristics, personal, pneumatology, theological notebook, writing

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