Mandy and I had a wonderful time at a conference this weekend. All of the papers were pretty good, though my favorites were Samuel Adams’ paper entitled “Poverty and Otherness in Second Temple Instructions” he dealt with a variety of literature from the Second Temple Period, but focused primarily on 4QInstruction and Joel Kaminsky’s “Israel and the ‘Other’ in Late Biblical and Early Rabbinic Thought.” Kaminsky has a monograph out that he drew from where he divides the world, in Israel’s view, into three sections:
1. Elect (Israel)
2. Non-Elect (Most of the rest of the world outside the land)
3. Anti-Elect (Canaanites, Amalekites, etc)
Several of the other presenters cited Kaminsky in their own work. I find the ideas that he lays out absolutely fascinating and a good challenge to the standard binary opposition of Elect vs. Non-Elect.
Carol Newsom’s keynote was also excellent, and actually tied in well with Kaminsky’s categories, though perhaps not deliberately. She spoke about God’s “other” being the gentile kings whom he fought and/or used. She set up a series of ways in which God interacted with this other. On one end of this spectrum was elimination, God destroyed the king, or Israel was supposed to destroy them. Near the opposite pole was assimilation. This side of the spectrum sees Israel assimilating the gentile king into their own theology. Cyrus, or perhaps Nebuchadnezzer, is the example par excellence of this way of dealing with the gentile king.
We also had a great time talking with Adam and Jenn. They showed us around Amherst, let us spend the night at their place, and otherwise made going to this thing possible. Add to that an excellent lunch on Saturday at a local pub (good beer too!) that left us to full to think about dinner, and the weekend was an absolutely wonderful time. I also had the opportunity to briefly meet John Collins since the conference was small and quite intimate.