Thursday, February 28, 2008

"The Other in Second Temple Judaism": A Conference in Honor of John Collins

A conference has been organized at Amherst College in honor of my advisor, Prof. John J. Collins:

The Other in Second Temple Judaism
A Conference in Honor of John J. Collins

Friday, April 4 and Saturday, April 5, 2008
The Cole Assembly Room, Converse Hall
Amherst College, Amherst, MA 01002

A native of Ireland, Professor Collins is the Holmes Professor of Old Testament Criticism and Interpretation at Yale Divinity School. He has published widely on the subjects of apocalypticism, wisdom, Hellenistic Judaism, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. His books include The Scepter and the Star: The Messiahs of Apocalypticism in the Dead Sea Scrolls; Jewish Wisdom in the Hellenistic Age; and The Apocalyptic Imagination. He is co-editor of the three-volume Encyclopedia of Apocalypticism and has participated in the editing of the Dead Sea Scrolls. He is editor of a monograph series for the Brill-titled Journal for the Study of Judaism Supplements and of the journal Dead Sea Discoveries, and has served as editor of the Journal of Biblical Literature and as president of both the Catholic Biblical Association and the Society of Biblical Literature.

Sponsored by the Willis D. Wood Fund
Free and Open to the Public

For directions, lodging, and registration for lunch/dinner on April 5th, please see our website at


Carol Newsom, Emory University; "God's Other: The Intractable Problem of the Gentile King in Israelite and Early Jewish Literature"
Samuel L. Adams, Union Theological Seminary/Richmond, "Poverty and 'Otherness' in Second Temple Instructions"
Karina Martin Hogan, Fordham University, "Elusive Wisdom and the Other Nations in Baruch"
Joel Kaminsky, Smith College, "Israel and the 'Other' in Late Biblical and Early Rabbinic Thought"
Antonios Finitsis, Pacific Lutheran University, "The 'Other' in Early Postexilic Period: The Argument According to Haggai and Zechariah 1-6"
Patricia Ahearne-Kroll, Ohio Wesleyan, "The 'Other' in the Study of Second Temple Judaism: The Question of Jewish Authorship and the Case of Artapanus"
Daniel Harlow, Calvin College, "Idolatry and Otherness: Israel and the Nations in the Apocalypse of Abraham"


Susan Ackermann
, Dartmouth College; Adela Yarbro Collins, Yale University; Susan Niditch, Amherst College

RBL Highlights: 2/28/08

A few highlights from this week's Review of Biblical Literature:

Cilliers Breytenbach, Johan C. Thom, and Jeremy Punt, eds.
The New Testament Interpreted: Essays in Honour of Bernhard C. Lategan
Reviewed by Douglas Estes

David Buttrick
Speaking Conflict: Stories of a Controversial Jesus
Reviewed by John J. Pilch

J. W. Childers and D. C. Parker, eds.
Transmission and Reception: New Testament Text-Critical and Exegetical Studies
Reviewed by Erroll F. Rhodes

Rachel Hallote
Bible, Map, and Spade: The American Palestine Exploration Society, Frederick Jones Bliss, and the Forgotten Story of Early American Biblical Archaeology
Reviewed by Eric M. Meyers

John R. Hinnells, ed.
A Handbook of Ancient Religions
Reviewed by Martin Ramey

Shane Kirkpatrick
Competing for Honor: A Social-Scientific Reading of Daniel 1-6
Reviewed by John J. Collins

Aquila H. I. Lee
From Messiah to Preexistent Son: Jesus' Self-Consciousness and Early Christian Exegesis of Messianic Psalms
Reviewed by Sam Janse

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Yay for Serene Jones!

Congratulations to Prof. Serene Jones, the new president of Union Theological Seminary:

Theologian Serene Jones Leaving Yale Divinity School to Head Union Theological Seminary

Serene Jones, the Titus Street Professor of Theology at Yale Divinity School, has accepted an offer to serve as president of Union Theological Seminary in New York City, a school with a long history of ties to YDS and where Reinhold Niebuhr, one of YDS’s most illustrious graduates, once taught.

The appointment was announced Feb. 25 by Union, which said Jones will assume her new position on July 1. Union, which like YDS is ecumenical in orientation, had conducted a six-month search to fill the post being vacated by retiring president Joseph Hough, a 1959 graduate of YDS.

“Serene Jones will be greatly missed at Yale Divinity School and within the broader university community,” said Yale Divinity School Dean Harold Attridge. “She has been a vital member of the YDS faculty since 1991 as a teacher of theology, but her influence has extended far beyond the classroom.

“Serene has been an active participant in day-to-day life on Sterling Divinity Quadrangle, and she has been one of the primary links between YDS and Yale’s professional schools, particularly Law, and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences—where she has played significant roles in the Department of Religious Studies, the Department of African American Studies, and the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies program”

In making today’s announcement, David Callard, chairman of Union’s Board of Trustees, stated, “Dr. Jones’s exceptional leadership style and distinguished scholarship make her the ideal person to lead this vibrant theological institution, which has been home to notable scholars Reinhold Niebuhr, Paul Tillich, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

“With Dr. Jones’s vision and commitment, Union is positioned not only to continue its role as a leading institution of theological education but also to be a strong voice at a time when religion, with all its pluralistic manifestations, has become an increasingly powerful and divisive issue.”

Jones expressed excitement about taking the reins at Union but noted that she is leaving with fond feelings about her time at Yale—which has included not only 17 years as a teacher but the time she spent earning an M.Div. at YDS and a Ph.D. in theology at the Graduate School, and her early childhood years. Jones was born while her father was pursuing his own degree at YDS, and she grew up around the Yale campus as he completed work on his B.D. and, then, his Ph.D.

“I am thrilled to be at the helm of a institution of theological education as esteemed and historic as Union Theological Seminary,” said Jones. “I am very sad to be leaving Yale, however. My time here—now more than half my life—has been filled with countless treasured friendships and an ongoing sense of intellectual companionship that’s been as rich as it has been expansive.

“Yale Divinity School is a magical place for ministerial formation—no other place like it on earth. The Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program is a community marked by academic earnestness and lively intellectual commitment. And the project I have participated in at the MacMillan Center—The Women, Religion, and Globalization Project—has been the most exciting collaborative endeavor of my career.

“I feel privileged to have benefited from Yale’s many resources over the years, and I will take a great deal of what I learned at Yale with me. After twenty-six years, Yale has seeped into my bones.”

In an interview published in the winter 2005 issue of Spectrum, Yale Divinity School’s alumni magazine, Jones described her teaching style this way: “What I spend most of my time doing is trying to engage and expand [students’] imaginations and hence their deepest desires. I teach and write to their imaginative universes—to the landscape of images, expectations, and possibilities that form the dramatic mental worlds in which their thoughts unfold.”

Emilie M. Townes, the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of African-American Religion and Theology at Yale Divinity School and current president of the American Academy of Religion, said, “I do not think it is a wise or faithful thing to stand in the way of a profound call. It is clear that this is what Serene is answering with her decision to accept Union’s presidency.” Townes, who came to YDS from a teaching position at Union, added, “I believe that she will lead Union wisely and with incredible creativity and foresight and not only will Union be blessed by her leadership, but all of theological education.”

And Margaret Farley, a close colleague of Jones and the Gilbert L. Stark Professor Emerita of Christian Ethics, said, "As an outstanding theologian, an interdisciplinary presence at Yale, a colleague, and friend, Serene Jones will be sorely missed at Yale Divinity School. Nonetheless, her talents are multiple and stunning, so I am delighted that she will now have an opportunity to exercise new forms of leadership not only at Union Theological Seminary but within the national and international communities of theological education."

Laura Wexler, professor of American Studies and professor of Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies program, called Jones “an integral and vibrant member” of the program who is “committed to fostering feminist scholarship and activism.” In Jones’s role as acting chair of WGSS, Wexler noted, she has brought “energy, vision and leadership to the program as it seeks a higher profile in the university at large.”

Said Wexler, “Through her work in gender studies she has also forged a significant new alliance between the Yale Divinity School and the main campus as one of three principle investigators (along with Cheryl Doss and myself) of the Women, Religion and Globalization grant newly awarded by the Luce Foundation to the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, the Yale Divinity School and the MacMillan Center. I am proud that WGSS has nurtured, and been nurtured by, this exceptional theologian who is so very, very alive to women’s local and global challenges.”

“Clearly, Serene is one of the outstanding young theologians on the American theological landscape, and Union is fortunate to have her at the helm,” Attridge said. “We wish Serene the very best and look forward to continued interaction with her as she pursues new challenges at one of the nation’s great institutions of theological learning.”