This study, a revised version of my dissertation, was completed by one person but the journey to this point involved many. What follows is but a modicum of gratitude to them. First, my Doktorvater, Professor Lawrence H. Schiffman who was a constant source of encouragement and support during my graduate studies. Before entering graduate school, I was advised by a good friend that it was critical to not only study with a brilliant scholar, but someone who was also a good person and diligently sought for the success of his/her students. Both are true of Professor Schiffman; he is a scholar among scholars and wonderful person. This study has benefitted at every stage from his keen editorial eye and critiques. It is much richer because of him and I am better researcher for it. Without that first phone call to schedule the meeting where he would invite me to apply to NYU’s Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies’ (HJS) PhD program, this accomplishment would have likely been out of reach for a Puerto Rican from East Harlem, New York City.
I would also like to thank the members of my committee who took the time to read and comment on this study. Professor Daniel Fleming, who was not only a member of my committee, but, as the director of graduate studies at HJS, was also a continual source of encouragement, especially with his ability to perceive my anxieties whenever we met. His care and concern for his students are second to none. Professor Adam Becker, whose critiques have helped to improve the revision of this study. Professor Jeffrey Rubenstein, for making sure that methodological issues within in this work were fully thought out and expressed in its pages. Professor Alex Jassen who, despite joining the department well into my writing process, was willing to become one of my readers. Additionally, I would like to thank Nyack College, President Michael Scales, Provost David Turk, Executive Vice President David Jennings, and Dean Ron Walborn for allowing me to join the New York City faculty during this process. A special thanks to Dean Walborn, who lessened my faculty load in order to give me time to write. I am thankful for the revisions suggested by Prof. Armin Lange; they have added positively to this work. Thanks, are also in order to the editors of the Journal for Ancient Judaism Supplement Series, Armin Lange, Bernard Levinson, and Vered Noam, for accepting this project into their prestigious series. I would also like to thank Christina Seipelt and Verlag Ferdinand Schöningh for their care and patience with my manuscript.
I am grateful to Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Mackey, who saw something in me as an undergraduate that I could not yet see. Professor Steven Notley’s friendship, mentoring, and chance meeting in 2001 was the initial spark that finds materialization with the completion of this project. Without his wisdom and guidance, much of this would have remained a dream—and by that I am including, graduate work, my doctorate, and sitting in the upper deck of Yankee stadium to watch the home team win the 2009 World Series (Game 6). I can never repay him for what he has so kindly and freely given. I am thankful to Sunya Notley for her ever-present smile, encouragement, and prayers. Thank you to my brother and best friend, Jeff. His support and patience were, and are, incredible. “You got this,” were the words he spoke to me—so simple, yet so profound. To my tio Arnold, I am grateful for all of our talks that involved almost every conceivable topic, especially those about the Bible. He has been an ever-constant guide during times that seemed so difficult. To my father, whose sense of humor and kindness reverberate in who I am—may his memory be for a blessing. Gracias a mi queridos abuelos, Santos Arroyo and Salustiana “Caridad” Arroyo, who came from the sugar cane fields and campos of Puerto Rico in the 40’s and were continuously supportive of my education with the hopes that I and the rest of their grandchildren would receive opportunities to which they never had access. For this I am indebted and eternally grateful—may their memories be for a blessing.
A note of eternal gratitude to my mother, who was a single mom with two small children in perhaps one of the roughest neighborhoods in New York City and fought to make sure that my sister and I were given access to a world of diverse cultural experiences and education that were otherwise foreign and strange to most in Spanish Harlem; I am utterly indebted to her. While others fell to the lure of the streets, she made sure that such temptations paled in comparison to our Buddy System. If there is a single reason why I did not become a negative statistic (or as my friend, Ilan, once said, “in jail or dead”), it was, and is, her—a woman among women. It would be her struggle to make sure that the streets were never an option for neither me nor my sister. Words cannot express how thankful I am to her; I am because she is. To my sister, one of my closest friends, she is my favorite partner in crime and a constant source of encouragement in times when her sarcastic and straight-shooting words were exactly what I needed. I am forever thankful to her. Our owls represent something precious and forever secure.
To my daughters, Ariana, Deirdre and Niamh (pronounced Neev), who have taught me more about being a father than I could ever hope to return: Ari who is the best amalgamation of cynicism, wit, and sarcasm; Didi, consistently pushing to make me think out of box about every subject from the Bible to horror movies; Niamhy (pron. neevie), whose love, sweetness, and compassion are a curing balm in a world of wounds. I am thankful to them for always requiring me to be a better person. To Abigail, my niece, and Cora, my granddaughter, who were born during this process, they are the brightest stars in a world that is often all too dark. Finally, last but surely not least, my wife, Maureen, whose unending patience, comfort, and compassion made me believe that this was even possible (as she constantly reminded me). While teaching and tending to her own graduate studies, she made sure that I had the free time to write and was, and will always be, my editor of choice. The dedication of this work to her is but the smallest of deserving acknowledgements. I could not have hoped for a better person, woman, and partner with which to experience life. If there was ever a day that is forever cherished, it is that day at Belvedere Castle in Central Park by Turtle Pond where I asked her to marry me, my