Cheating on my first love

I’ve known for years that I’d like to study and write more on the book of Jeremiah. I find the book of Jeremiah fascinating – a wonderful mixture of different poetry, and actions, and confessions, and oracles. The order puzzles everyone. Then the prophet himself is fascinating. And the theological message of repenting, but disaster is still coming, appears to be a paradox – and doesn’t fit with any kind of happy feel good theology. I could spend aeons studying it. Jeremiah was thus the obvious book to focus in for my doctoral research.

Last year I was offered a temporary position of working on a biblical computer database with the Werkgroep Informatica of the Vrije Universiteit. I’d do some labelling of parts of speech and valancy, and also create structural outlines. Someone had already done Jeremiah, but Ezekiel had to be done. So I’ve spent the last year with Ezekiel, feeling a bit like I was cheating on my first love.

But the story gets worse. Although I still find the book and person of Jeremiah more fascinating (and wouldn’t mind spending years and years working on it), the book of Ezekiel – in all its oddity – has grown on me. I still think that anyone who’d purposely study Ezekiel is slightly ‘soft in the head’ but the puzzle of how the pieces in each chapter fit together grammatically and rhetorically – has captured my imagination. And I’ve thus chosen to change my dissertation project. That I was as far along with my own research in Jeremiah as I was in analyzing the data in Ezekiel makes it feasible – and since my head is more immersed in Ezekiel, this switch is also more practical. It is also becoming more obvious that I will still to get ask similar questions about how to understand the text in all its syntactical complexity – just now for the book of Ezekiel – and then later for Jeremiah.

As a side consequence of this shift, many of the thoughts from Ezekiel, which were somewhat an incentive to start this blog in order to share, are now currently bouncing around in my head and in the proposal (instead of written here) as part of the incubation period of my dissertation. Perhaps they will come out again later when they’ve grown up a bit more… and when I’m ready to let my ‘children’ be criticized.

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