Sycamore Hall, rm 207
I study the texts and traditions of Ancient Judaism, including the Hebrew Bible, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and para-biblical texts, with a special interest in the development and interpretation of prophecy, prayer, and lament literature in second temple Jewish culture. I seek to reconstruct the broader imaginative world behind the formation and early interpretation of these writings.
My research investigates the concept of writing itself in the ancient Jewish imagination, in a scribal culture whose categories and definitions for understanding texts were quite different from those of modern “book culture.” Before the codex, the printing press, and authorial copyright, how were scriptures developed and used, and what are the implications of these questions for the way we understand the history of the Hebrew Bible? In my dissertation, Psalms Unbound: Ancient Concepts of Textual Tradition in 11QPsalmsa and Related Texts, I used an unusual, expanded collection of Psalms from the Dead Sea Scrolls as a way into such questions, investigating how the collection developed in the larger context of Jewish pedagogical and liturgical traditions. I showed that the Psalms were not imagined as a “book” or a set collection, but as a fluid, undefined body of revealed, heavenly writing.
I place the field of Biblical Studies in conversation with the broader history of Jewish reading and writing, as well as with Book History and Information Studies, which both investigate the roles of material media and social contexts in the transmission and preservation of cultural memory. This interdisciplinary approach allows for cross-cultural and cross-historical comparisons that can provide new ways of approaching ancient Jewish texts. Most recently, I considered how “post-book” digital culture transforms practices of text production and reading, and argued that reflecting on these profound changes can invigorate our thinking about concepts of authorship, authority, and textual transmission in the “pre-book” world, as well.
Besides revising my dissertation for publication, my current projects include writing an article about the re-collection of second temple Jewish “apocryphal Psalms” in the later Syriac Christian tradition, and co-authoring an annotated anthology of Jewish lament literature from antiquity through the 20th century.
“Thinking Digitally About the Dead Sea Scrolls: ‘Book History’ Before and Beyond the Book,” Book History 14 (2011), 235-63.
“‘Aramaisms’ in Qohelet: Methodological Problems in Identification and Interpretation,” Qohelet for the 21st Century (eds M. Boda, T. Longman, and C. Rata; Eisenbrauns, forthcoming).
“A Peg To Hang on: Metaphor, Ancestral Merit, and the Midrashic Relationship of David and Solomon,” Vixens Disturbing Vineyards: Embarrassment and Embracement of Scriptures: Festschrift in Honor of Harry Fox (eds A. Glazer, M. Segal, and T. Yoreh; Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2010), 219-240.
“Moses, David, and Scribal Revelation: Preservation and Renewal in Second Temple Jewish Textual Traditions,” in The Significance of Sinai: Traditions about Sinai and Divine Revelation in Judaism and Christianity (eds G.J. Brooke, H. Najman, and L. Stuckenbruck; Themes in Biblical Narrative; Leiden: Brill, 2008), 91-115.
“David,” Theologisches Wörterbuch zu den Qumran-Texten (ThWQ) (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer; forthcoming 2011).