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Presidential Voices

The Society of Biblical Literature in the Twentieth Century


Harold Attridge and James VanderKam

Since late in the nineteenth century, a nearly constant element in the program for the annual meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature (and Exegesis) has been the lecture delivered by the president whose term concludes with that meeting. These presidential addresses have not only provided defining moments for biblical studies as a practice and a profession but also, read together, reveal the growth and development that the Society has experienced since its founding in 1880. The addresses included in this volume, for example, show how a dominant focus on interpreting biblical texts “historically” gave way to a greater appreciation of those texts as literature to an increased recognition of the role the interpreter plays in shaping the “meaning” of any text. One also observes in this documentary history the shift from parochialism to a more inclusive view of biblical studies, a change in focus from narrow theological concerns to broader social concerns, and the gradual erosion of positivistic assumptions about the objectivity of the interpretive process. The twenty-three presidential addresses collected here thus give readers direct access to some of the key moments and broader trends within the history of the SBL.

Paperback edition is available from the Society of Biblical Literature (

Reanimating Qohelet’s Contradictory Voices

Studies of Open-Ended Discourse on Wisdom in Ecclesiastes


Jimyung Kim

Ecclesiastes, also known as Qohelet, is a fascinating text filled with intriguing contradictions, such as wisdom’s beneficial consequences, God’s justice, and wisdom’s superiority over pleasure. Under the paradigm of modernism, the contradictions in the book have been regarded as problems to be harmonized or explained away. In Reanimating Qohelet’s Contradictory Voices, Jimyung Kim, drawing on Mikhail Bakhtin’s insights, offers an alternative reading that embraces the contradictions as they stand. For Kim, Qohelet’s or the protagonist’s contradictory consciousness is dialogically constructed by his contact with a complex web of discourses. Instead of harmonizing them or explaining them away, Kim identifies various dialogic voices available to Qohelet and demonstrates how those voices constitute Qohelet’s contradictory utterances and construct his unfinalizable identity.

The Double Voice of Her Desire

Texts by Fokkelien van Dijk-Hemmes


J J. Bekkenkam

To the attentive listener, women’s texts speak with a “double voice.” Women are quite capable of telling a conventional story, reflecting the expectations of the dominant culture. However, at the same time they tell their own, muted story. Such stories are fragments of resistance, and anyone who has experience of living on the margins can track them down. Such was the view of Fokkelien van Dijk-Hemmes (1943-1994).

This is a comprehensive collection of the late scholar’s groundbreaking work in feminist biblical interpretation, in English translation. The essays document Van Dijk-Hemmes’ development and show how her work relates to contemporary developments in feminist thinking. There is a Foreword by Mieke Bal, an in memoriam by Athalya Brenner, and an overview of van Dijk-Hemmes’ extensive output of books and articles completes the volume.

Fokkelien van Dijk-Hemmes taught Women’s Studies and Old Testament at the University of Utrecht. Her pioneering work of feminist interpretation, tragically cut short, was highly influential both inside and outside the Netherlands.
Translated by David E. Orton

Daughter Zion Talks Back to the Prophets

A Dialogic Theology of the Book of Lamentations


Carleen Mandolfo

Daughter Zion Talks Back to the Prophets offers a new theological reading of the book of Lamentations by putting the female voice of chapters 1–2 into dialogue with the divine voice of prophetic texts in which God represents the people Israel as his wife and indicts them/her for being unfaithful to him. In Lam 1–2 we hear the “wife” talk back, and from her words we get an entirely different picture of the conflict showcased through this marriage metaphor. Mandolfo thus presents a feminist challenge to biblical hegemony and patriarchy and reconstrues biblical authority to contribute to the theological concerns of a postcolonial world.

Paperback edition is available from the Society of Biblical Literature (


Norman Habel and Peter Trudinger

What has hermeneutics to do with ecology? What texts, if any, come to mind when you consider what the scriptures might say about environmental ethics? To help readers think critically and clearly about the Bible’s relation to modern environmental issues, this volume expands the horizons of biblical interpretation to introduce ecological hermeneutics, moving beyond a simple discussion about Earth and its constituents as topics to a reading of the text from the perspective of Earth. In these groundbreaking essays, sixteen scholars seek ways to identify with Earth as they read and retrieve the role or voice of Earth, a voice previously unnoticed or suppressed within the biblical text and its interpretation. This study enriches eco-theology with eco-exegesis, a radical and timely dialogue between ecology and hermeneutics.

Paperback edition is available from the Society of Biblical Literature (


Andrew P. Wilson

While postmodernism remains an ambiguous and messy phenomenon to represent, it also remains a compelling prophetic voice in the ongoing development of contemporary biblical studies. In Critical Entanglements: Postmodern Theory and Biblical Studies, Andrew P. Wilson tracks the various strands of postmodernism threaded through the discipline, drawing on a range of evocative biblical readings as well as key examples from the art world. Wilson demonstrates that the scholarly “entanglement” with postmodern theory provides a valuable critical sensibility to biblical readings, and referring to specific examples from reception history, one that has the potential to showcase biblical studies at its best. When it comes to reading practices, scholarly voices and identities, postmodern theory shows that biblical scholarship is ethically oriented and has an expansive sense of the text and textual effects. Wilson plots the distinctive ways in which postmodern theory has shaped scholarship of the bible while continuing to beckon in unanticipated ways from unexpected vantage points.

I Am Large, I Contain Multitudes

Lyric Cohesion and Conflict in Second Isaiah


Katie Heffelfinger

This book joins the notion that Second Isaiah is a poetic text with the task of interpreting it as a unified whole. In so doing, it makes methodological suggestions for applying a lyric poetic approach to biblical texts. The practical application of this approach shows Second Isaiah to be characterized by tension, conflict, and juxtaposition. The lyric model shows these conflicts, such as the presence of searing indictments in the ‘book of comfort,’ to be integral elements of the mode by which Second Isaiah addresses its audience. This book highlights the tonalities of the divine voice as central to Second Isaiah’s particularly poetic mode of cohesion and essential to the conflicted comfort Second Isaiah offers its reader.


Edited by Melvin Peters

This book represents the current state of Septuagint studies as reflected in papers presented at the triennial meeting of the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies (IOSCS). In method, content, and approach, the proceedings published in this volume demonstrate the vitality of interest in Septuagint studies and the dedication of the authors—established scholars and promising younger voices—to their diverse subjects. This edition of the proceedings continues an established tradition of publishing volumes of essays from the international conferences of the IOSCS.


Edited by Carleen Mandolfo and Nancy Lee

Personal tragedy and communal catastrophe up to the present day are universal human experiences that call forth lament. Lament singers—from the most ancient civilizations to traditional oral poets to the biblical psalmists and poets of Lamentations to popular singers across the globe—have always raised the cry of human suffering, giving voice to the voiceless, illuminating injustice, or pleading for divine help. This volume gathers an international collection of essays on biblical lament and Lamentations, illuminating their genres, artistry, purposes, and significant place in the history and theologies of ancient Israel. It also explores lament across cultures, both those influenced by biblical traditions and those not, as the practices of composition, performance, and interpretation of life’s suffering continue to shed light on our knowledge of biblical lament.