Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Agents of Resurrection - Lecture by Dr. Benjamin Wold

On 10 March 2011, Dr. Benjamin Wold, visiting lecturer from Dublin, delivered a paper entitled “Agents of Resurrection in 4Q521, The Sayings Source Q and 4QPseudo-Ezekiel” here in Leuven.

Dr. Wold is a researcher and lecturer in New Testament and Christian Origins at Trinity College in Dublin. His research interest is how scripture was used in Early Judaism, the New Testament and Early Christianity. He has also researched on Apocalyptic and Wisdom Literature from the Second Temple Period.

Wold’s lecture is being prepared for publication in the journal ZNW and an earlier draft had already been presented in Dublin (to be found here). Wold deals with the theme of messianic/prophetic figures and their agency in resurrection as described in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Q. Wold challenges the opinions of John Collins and Émile Puech who claim that the agent of resurrection in 4Q521 should be equated with the prophet Elijah. Wold provides grammatical evidence that in 4Q521 ii one may read the word messiah either in the singular or in the plural. This allows for inclusive interpretations of the passage that not only one specific figure is the anointed one. Wold further argues that the prophetic/messianic figure being an agent of resurrection could be the prophet Ezekiel. In order to substantiate his claims, Wold refers to another scroll found in the caves – 4QPseudo-Ezekiel. While admitting that his argument is not wholly conclusive and might fail to convince some, Wold nonetheless attempted to make as persuasive a case as possible.

A lively discussion followed the lecture. In general, questions were raised in the form of objections to the paper’s claims. One of the objections was that Wold’s use of the term “agency” seemed to confuse its usage with the concept of “power”. Thus, it was not clear to one participant how Ezekiel’s ‘agency’ was similar to that of Elijah, who seemed to display a greater power in actually raising the widow’s son, and on whom it was more conceivable that the evangelists were seeking to model Jesus’ power to raise the dead. Another objection was in the difference in genre between Ezekiel’s “vision” of dry bones and the more ‘narrative’ presentations of Elijah’s, Elisha’s and Jesus’ resurrection stories. A third objection got caught up in the confusion between the vision of the Dry Bones in Ezekiel 37 and its reworking in 4QPseudo-Ezekiel. One participant did not agree that the revivification of the dry bones illustrated individual resurrection, but sided rather with the view that it should be understood as a metaphor for the national restoration of Israel. Somewhat taken aback by the vigorous response, Dr. Wold nonetheless held his ground and defended himself both artfully and with restraint.

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