Several times a year, members of the OBSO Editorial Board interview some of the most influential figures in the field of Biblical studies, from scholars to writers to artists. Click on the conversations listed below to follow some of the latest discussions regarding the text as well as Biblical history, literature, and theology.
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Theologian and gender studies expert Jorunn Økland is the President of the European Association of Biblical Studies and a professor of the University of Oslo. Along with numerous articles, Økland is the author of Women in Their Place: Paul and the Corinthian Discourse of Gender and Sanctuary Space (Continuum, 2004). From 2010 to 2013, Økland was the Director of the Centre for Gender Research at Oslo, which conducted a groundbreaking study on women's interpretations and appropriations of canonical texts. Here, she discusses the findings of that study, and its implications for the future of biblical studies, with OBSO editor Daniel Schowalter.
John Barton is the Emeritus Oriel and Laing Professor of the Interpretation of the Holy Scripture at Oxford University, and is the author of some of the most respected and authoritative works on the Bible, including most recently The Bible: The Basics (Routledge 2010) and The Nature of Biblical Criticism (Westminster John Knox 2007). In this interview with Marc Brettler (Brandeis University), Professor Barton discusses the evolution of both his own scholarly interests and the field of Biblical Studies as a whole, along with some of his major influences and a forthcoming project.
Richard B. Parkinson is a Professor of Egyptology at the University of Oxford, a fellow at The Queen's College, and the former curator of the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan at the British Museum. His scholarly interests focus on the interpretation of ancient Egyptian literature, especially the poetry of the classic age. In 2013, Professor Parkinson agreed to include his landmark translation of The Tale of Sinuhe on Oxford Biblical Studies Online (OBSO), making it available online for the first time. Featuring adventure stories, dialogues on life and death, ruminations on the problem of suffering, and teachings about the nature of wisdom and virtue, this collection explores many themes that also appear in Biblical literature. In an interview with OBSO editors below, Parkinson discusses the work that went into this scholarly endeavour, along with misconceptions about how ancient Egyptian literature relates to the genres of the Bible.
Dan W. Clanton, Jr. is the Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Doane College. He holds a Ph.D. in Religious and Theological Studies from the University of Denver and the Iliff School of Theology, with an emphasis in Biblical Studies. His research interests include artistic, musical, and literary interpretations of biblical literature as well as the intersection between religion and culture. Along these lines, he has presented and published on topics as diverse as depictions of Hanukkah on the television show South Park and the overlap between the book of Jonah and the comic book Jonah Hex. His own books include The Good, the Bold, and the Beautiful: The Story of Susanna and Its Renaissance Interpretations and Daring, Disreputable, and Devout: Interpreting the Hebrew Bible's Women in the Arts and Music. He has also recently edited or co-edited two books: The End Will Be Graphic: Apocalyptic in Comic Books and Graphic Novels and Understanding Religion and Popular Culture, both published in 2012. In an interview with Brent Strawn (Emory University), Clanton discusses with Brent Strawn the varied influences on his work, and the ways in which comic book designers, novelists, screenwriters, and other artists have used the Bible as a source of inspiration.
Menahem Haran is the Yeḥezkel Kaufmann Professor Emeritus of Bible Studies at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. He is a leading scholar on biblical religion, especially priestly literature, and the canonization of the biblical texts. In this interview, Professor Marc Z. Brettler discusses Haran's career path and his views on the priestly school and the canonization of Hebrew Bible/OT.
Biblical scholar Sara Japhet has been a leading authority on the two books of Chronicles since the publication of her landmark works The Ideology of the Book of Chronicles and Its Place in Biblical Thought (Hebrew 1977; English translation 1989), followed by I and II Chronicles: A Commentary in 1993. In an interview with Professor Marc Zvi Brettler of Brandeis University, Professor Japhet explains how she became interested in the Chronicler, which she describes as "a fresh, critical spirit with the courage to look at Israelite history in a different way." This emphasis on new and critical perspectives, she explains, helped to frame her career, and was fitting given her appointment as the first tenured woman in the Bible Department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In addition, Japhet discusses how her early experiences with Chronicles informed her ongoing work on the larger issues of exegesis and historiography. An audio version of the interview appears here.
Shalom M. Paul is the Yehezkel Kaufmann Professor Emeritus of Bible Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His most recent work, Isaiah 40–66: A Commentary is regarded as the premier resource on the topic of "Second Isaiah", the distinctive voice that scholars believe was added to the prophecy years after it was first written. In this interview, Professor Marc Zvi Brettler discusses with Paul his interest in Isaiah and the Near Eastern context from which it emerged.
Vincent L. Wimbush is Professor of Religion and Director of the Institute for Signifying Scriptures at Claremont Graduate University. He is the author of The Bible and African Americans: A Brief History and the editor of African Americans and the Bible: Sacred Texts and Social Textures and Theorizing Scriptures: New Critical Orientations to a Cultural Phenomenon. His scholarship has expanded to what he describes as a "transdisciplinary study of scriptures, " combining "the anthropology, sociology and psychology" associated with the reception history of sacred text. In an interview below with Adele Reinhartz (University of Ottawa), Professor Wimbush discusses the evolving scope of his work, specifically his exploration of the ways in which the culture of the Black Atlantic has interpreted scripture.
Born in Amsterdam, Emanuel Tov emigrated to Israel in 1961. He studied Bible and Greek literature at the Hebrew University and continued his studies at the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Literatures at Harvard University between 1967 and 1969. He obtained his Ph.D. degree at the Hebrew University in 1973.Since 1986, Tov has been a professor in the Department of Bible of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem from which he retired in 2009. Tov has specialized in various aspects of the textual criticism of Hebrew and Greek Scripture as well as in the Qumran Scrolls. In addition to writing numerous books and articles, Professor Tov is involved in several research projects, but since 1990 most of his energy has been invested in directing the Dead Sea Scrolls Publication Project. Under his guidance, thirty-three volumes appeared from 1992 to 2010 in the Discoveries in the Judaean Desert series, including an overall concordance. In this interview (also available in an audio format on the OUPBlog), Professor Marc Brettler discusses with Professor Tov his early days as a scholar of Biblical Studies, his major influences, and the legacy of his work—most notably his landmark book Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible (2001), which continues to set the standard for his field.
A self-described "Yankee Jewish feminist," Professor Amy-Jill Levine (Vanderbilt University) is a member of Congregation Sherith Israel, an Orthodox Synagogue, although her academic career has been decidedly unorthodox. Her recent books include The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus (HarperOne), The Meaning of the Bible: What the Jewish Scriptures and the Christian Old Testament Can Teach Us, co-authored with Douglas Knight (HarperOne), and the Jewish Annotated New Testament, co-edited with Marc Z. Brettler (Oxford). In this interview with Professor Adele Reinhartz (University of Ottawa), Levine describes her experiences as a person raised in the Jewish tradition who became fascinated by the varying popular and scholarly interpretations of the New Testament.