How might the same words of scripture take on different nuances in different periods and places? And how might various translations and versions shine a light on the various communities that produced them?
These were some of the larger questions that I pursued while on sabbatical in Spring 2018. The project is to take a single biblical text, Psalm 132, and look at how it is translated and used in four very distinct communities in crisis from the period of the Second Temple to Antebellum America. Although Ps 132 isn't particularly well-known in contemporary circles, its claims about God and politics makes it an excellent vantage point from which to see people shaping very different visions of identity using the same words of prayer.
The text depicted here is a version of Ps 132 by an Elizabethan Protestant, Mary Sidney Herbert. In her paraphrase of the text we see her participating in the contentious religious and cultural dialogues of the English reformation even as she crafts lines of infinite beauty: "Lord call to mind, Lord keep in mind, Thy David and thy David's pains; Who once by oath and vow did bind himself to Him who aye remains: That mighty one, the God in Jacob known."
I join my faculty colleagues (who also shared with you some aspects of their time on sabbatical in Spring 2018 in the Dean's Commentaries this week) in thanking the community who supported our time away. We are refreshed and eager to take our place once again in our work together at VTS.
The Rev. Melody Knowles, Ph.D.
Vice President of Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Old Testament