Monday 4 October 2010

Abstracts of Graduate Theses

Krista Mournet, John Barton (chair), Alison Gray
Not wishing by any means to be incomplete, I want to list the theses briefly from the 14 graduates. I read these on the train to Ely and made a few notes. Some struck me as of considerable interest. Three were presented from Alison Gray, John Wigfield, and Krista Mournet.

Alison Gray gave us a clear short handout illustrating the use of Metaphors in the Psalms with examples from Psalm 18. I loved her talk of course since my recent reading of the Psalms treated them as if they were framed pictures in a gallery. (See the Psalter kata Bob). Alison being from Selwyn, we soon discovered we had an acquaintance in common, my daughter Sarah, from whose house I am writing.

John Wigfield
John Wigfield (Nottingham) presented the ideal and the realized Deuteronomic king (Psalm 1) and the royal Davidic king (Psalm 2). His thesis title is "Deuteronomy and David in dialogue: evoking a conversation between Psalm 1 and Psalm 2 in the joint introduction to the Psalter."  After reading the abstract, I jotted down a few questions I would ask if he were in the room with me: how would you justify "fuse" vs "contrast" (in the two individuals in the two psalms) as the purpose of the juxtaposition of the 2 psalms? And - is David superceding Deuteronomy?

Krista Mournet (Durham) is exploring "'Turning' in the Psalms: with special reference to Psalm 90:13". Psalm 90 certainly turns on turning. I always think of the Shaker song when I consider this psalm - till by turning, turning, we come round right. Krista intends to explore the various words we translate as turn and their significance.

Stephan Attard (Pontifical Biblical Institute) The Structural Scheme Ordering Book II of the Psalter: A Synchronic Analysis. "From the point of view of a theology of prayer, a general movement from a moment of crisis or human predicament to a divine response or theological solution, leading to a human response, can be shown to occur in various cycles in the itinerary commencing with Psalm 42 and concluding with Psalm 72."

Simon - hand over mouth
Simon Chi-Chung (St Edmund's). Simon and I traveled back to Cambridge together - a scintillating 3 hour conversation. His thesis is Classifying and Contextualizing "Wisdom Psalms". He will be analyzing psalms 37, 49, and 73 in detail and applying his results to several other psalms (1, 19, 32, 39, and 128).

Helen Dare (Bristol). Always on the way and in the fray: British Baptist hermeneutics in dialogue with Walter Bruggemann. From her abstract: "...interpretation should be marked by a willingness to 'risk' a dialogical openness to the voice of covenant partners, human and divine."

Bill Goodman (Sheffield) Yearning for you: Songs in Conversation. Bill's thesis "attempts a conversation between contemporary songs and biblical songs." I put a circle in the margin against the words implying that "the language of lover or eros is notably absent" from the Psalms and that the language of rebuke is absent from the Song. Perhaps his thesis will fill in the circle from the lilies to the watchman's strike with his staff.

Will Kynes (Cambridge, St John's College) My Psalm has turned to weeping: The Dialogical Use of the Psalms in the Book of Job.  "In their dispute the Job poet often has Job and his friends represent opposing sides of tensions latent within a psalm, thereby placing his interpretation of the psalm in the space between their interpretations." He has identified a vital aspect of the white fire in this sentence. This is a paper to watch for. I note a comment from Childs that I read this week re Job: "the failure to assign any value to the final form of the book ... has resulted in widespread confusion." (Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture p523)

Seonghye Lee (Bristol) - The book of Psalms as an anthology designed to be memorized. This is a lovely idea - and every structural clue that can be identified will help translators give us a new lasting translation.

Sean Mayer (right)
Sean Maher (St Patrick's Carlow, previously Pontifico Istituto Biblico) What Law? What Truth? A study of the notion of torah in Psalm 119. Sean asked me if Yeats was my favorite poet. And I said not particularly - but that he made a mistake in not staging O'Casey's play.  (There - that's my inclusio for these blog posts - now I know I am finishing. But there is one more post if you are reading 'in sequence')

Isobel Rathbone (Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford) The theological agenda of King Alfred's reforms - and a double line goes against this sentence: "I am particularly interested in Alfred's translations, with additions, of the first 50 psalms."
Phil, Till, and Johannes

Antonia Richards (Liverpool Hope University) Who are the divine assembly in Psalm 82? Her study proposes an interesting convergence of Mesopotamian, Canaanite, and Hebrew religion, law, and culture.

and finally - not to be omitted - is fellow-blogger Phil Sumpter (Gloucestershire/Bonn) Reading Psalm 24 in the context of B.S. Childs' canonical approach. Phil's abstract is here on his blog.


  1. Hello Bob!

    It was good to meet you at the Psalms conference. Thank you for sharing all these abstracts. It was truly an honor and privilege to attend, and to be able to share my research with this tremendous group of people.

    Best wishes, until we meet again!

    Krista Mournet

  2. Hi Krista - good to hear from you. I write from the shores of the Sea of Galilee (not a very big sea) in the early morning before breakfast - while the Americas are about to retire to bed. This conference was important to me also. The Psalms, which my wife and I have been reading as we travel, are the essence of our relationship with God and with our humanity in all its historical, emotional, and physical reality. Your study will pay great dividends for many.