Novak (novak) wrote,

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Theological Notebook: Songs in Revelation and the Joys of German

The quest into the Odes of Solomon has now taken me to another text recommended from the notes I received via the editor of Vigiliae Christianae from one of the readers. When I had done the original research for my article, I had been looking for one section particularly closely at all the songs recorded in the New Testament book of Revelation. I had actually been quite surprised to discover that I couldn't find much in the way of research on the songs themselves. It seemed to me that after the explosion of formal academic research in the 19th and 20th centuries that pretty much everything in the New Testament had to have been topically addressed by scholars specializing in that study. But I didn't find anything that seemed to specifically focus on the songs. The reader, however, was able to point me to the principal work done on the topic, which we actually had in our library. I'm guessing that I somehow failed to find it in my original search just because the title didn't come up in my computer searches through the holdings.

So I grabbed Klaus-Peter Jorns's Das hymnische Evangelium: Untersuchungen zu Aufbau, Funktion und Herkunft der hymnischen Stücke in der Johannesoffenbarung yesterday in the stacks, and discovered first off that I'm the first person to check out the book since 1975. What a lonely book! That comes out to something like The Gospel Hymn: Studies on the Structure, Function and Origin of the Hymn-ish Pieces in the Book of Revelation. Once I looked over the record, I could see why I missed it. I don't think I searched under the category or word of "hymns" in revelation as much as I did "songs" or "poems," and the Library of Congress subject headings that it was filed under was only as "criticism" of Revelation, which would have been too general to grab my attention. So I lucked out in my reader knowing this text, which was Jorns's dissertation.

I got rusty reading German over the last few years as my dissertation topic was almost entirely in English language resources, with just occasional touches of French or Latin. German's theological vocabulary can be particularly unfriendly, so I was already sweating a bit as I read through the table of contents and climbed the stairs to head out of the library. I ran into Christine Wood, who I hadn't seen since she attended my dissertation defense, and I caught up a bit with her as she was sitting there typing part of chapter three of her own dissertation on the will of God, and reading some Garrigou-Lagrange and, as luck would have it, sweating through her own translating of a German text. Good times in theologyland. So along with talking theology of grace and of the knowledge of the will of God, we caught up on a bit of one another's news, since I hadn't really been able to talk to people in detail at my defense.

I had a similar bit of fun today catching up with Julie Riederer out in New York, amazed that it's already been two years, and hearing about her finishing up her Master's work in Cognition and hatching some her own plans for the immediate future. She built on her own interest in taking her research in congnition – in how people think, the actual mechanisms of thought – into the business world, as she had told me back in March, and was now looking to do something of that sort in the corporate world of Manhattan. I caught her up on the end of the school year and my career at Marquette, and filled her in on what was happening in New Orleans. She was generously jazzed for me, but through me a little bit when she said that she thought New Orleans was the perfect place for me. "Because of its depravity?" I asked, sincerely not following her. No, she laughed, but rather because New Orleans was such a lively and distinct culture, and that that was the sort of thing that attracted me in my travels. So that answer was both reassuring and a great compliment, as well as making me feel like a bit of dork for my initial incomprehension. But Jules always makes me feel like an excellent dork when I feel like a dork, so that's all good.
Tags: books, friends-marquette era, johannine literature, new orleans, theological notebook, writing

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