Blessed (This Is Not About My Comps)

I heard some good news today, and it’s unrelated to my comps. Here’s the background: I’ll be moving to upstate New York from Cincinnati later this month. I go to Hebrew Union College, which is in Cincinnati. The good news that I heard today is that students who live far from campus (as in out of state) can request that Hebrew Union College send library books to them by mail, so long as they only have ten out at a time; students also need to return the books through a method that can be tracked, such as UPS or Fed-Ex.

This makes me happy. Right now, I’m not happy so much because I’ll have access to books for my dissertation. That happiness will come after I pass my comps and actually start writing my dissertation. Rather, I’m happy because I get to take some HUC books with me when I go to New York.

This has been important to me because of a book I have checked out for my weekly quiet time on the Book of Psalms. The book is William Braude’s Midrash on the Psalms, which is a two-volume compendium of medieval Jewish midrashim on the Psalms. I only have volume 1 checked out, but I’ll check out volume 2 soon. Before I learned that I could conduct library business by mail, I looked on Amazon to see if I could get the books, but they were WAY too expensive for me (or probably most people). Now, I can take the books with me.

My reading of the midrashim on Psalm 1 last Saturday really made my weekly quiet time interesting. It was a bright spot in my study of Psalm 1. My expectation (based on my experience) is that the Psalms can get pretty repetitive and boring. I hope I turn out to be wrong on this and to see new things in the Psalms, but this is my current impression. And so I enjoy the way that midrashim on the Psalms arrive at creative interpretations, as they apply the Psalms to different things.

Once I knew that I could take library books with me to New York and return them by mail, I checked out another book: Theodore of Mopsuestia’s comments on Psalms 1-81. Theodore of Mopsuestia was a Christian thinker from the fourth century who belonged to the Antioch School of biblical interpretation: this school tried to arrive at literal, historical meanings of biblical texts, as they understood “literal” and “historical.” Consequently, the Psalms were related to David, and passages in the prophets were applied to the Maccabees; the School of Antioch didn’t try to force everything in the Hebrew Bible into a christological grid, irrespective of the biblical writings’ contexts. But they did say that things in the Hebrew Bible could be a type of Jesus, while also having meaning in their own contexts.

I’m looking forward to reading this book, though I expect that someone else will request it, in which case I’d have to return it. I don’t know this for sure, but I’m saying it because it strikes me as a hot book! But that’s why I should also look at other options (i.e., libraries in New York, or in my alma maters, etc.).

One more point: I’m happy that I’ll have access to the HUC library in upstate New York. But I’ll miss looking at books in the HUC library, only for one of the books to grab me and say “Read me! Read me!” But I’ll have other settings for that.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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