Monthly Archives: November 2009

Balancing Life Within Biblical Studies

Working on my dissertation is my default activity. The problem is that there’s a lot of other things in my life which ask for attention. On the one hand, I get frustrated by all of these things that take me away from thinking and writing and studying. On the other hand, I recognize that if I spend too much time in my head, I don’t like the person I become. [For example, I become less concerned about the people around me, I lose my ability to hold conversations about non-academic things, and I get stressed irritated with things that would otherwise cause me little concern.]

So I struggle with the question of how to be properly inwardly and outwardly focused. I have discovered that teaching helps provide a means to balance the focus on study and being concerned with others – but that’s not always an option. Nor is it necessarily the best way for me to balance life, for depending on who and what I’m teaching, I could get lost in a tiny little world of details and forget what life is like for the rest fo the world – those that don’t read Hebrew or are concerned about being Calvinistic or Reformed. And so I have chosen a different option, one that doesn’t exclude teaching or research but instead includes them alongside of a choice to be an active participant in a Christian [new monastic] community. And thus not only is my faith something I talk and think about, it also becomes something I do.

I wonder whether others feel the need for balance and reality checks as much as I do, and what they have chosen to do to create healthy balances.

Quote of the day – on subjectivity, Biblical Hebrew, poetry, and verbs

I came across the following quote today in my research into the verbal system in Biblical Hebrew Poetry.

“It was and still is fairly a [sic] common opinion among scholars, although not always openly declared, that the verbal forms in poetry, more than in prose, can be taken to mean everything the interpreter thinks appropriate according to his understanding and the context.”

[Alviero Niccacci, “The Biblical Hebrew Verbal System in Poetry” in Avi Hurvitz, Stephen E. Fassberg (ed.), Biblical Hebrew in Its Northwest Semitic Setting: Typological and Historical Perspectives (Hebrew University Magnes Press, Jerusalem & Eisenbrauns, Winona Lake, 2006): 247 (full article: 247-68)]

There’s nothing quite as comforting to a Ph.D. student as when one of the biggest names in verbal forms points out the general subjectivity found in the discussion the verbal forms in poetry. At the same time, it’s a bit frustrating to recognize that I’ll have to weed through a lot of claims made that are built on limited evidence.