Saturday, December 3, 2011

CBL: Old Testament Pseudepigrapha and the Scriptures

Prof. Dr. Eibert Tigchelaar in the text below gives the rationale of the Colloquium Biblicum Lovaniense LXI.

Traditionally, the phenomenon of Old Testament Pseudepigrapha has been related to the canonization of the Hebrew Bible (or, at least, of the Law and the Prophets), and to the belief that prophecy and inspiration had ended with Ezra. Thus, it was broadly held that Jewish authors who wrote in the Hellenistic and Roman periods could only present their own views if they would write anonymously or pseudonymously, attributing their own writings to ancient biblical figures up to Ezra. At best, these pseudepigraphic writings would shed light on forms of apocalyptic Judaism in the centuries at the beginning of the era (ca. 200 B.C.—200 C.E.); at worst, their authors were accused of pious fraud.

In the last decades, the publication of all the Dead Sea Scrolls, changing ideas about the canon of the Hebrew Bible and the canonical process, renewed discussions about the phenomenon of pseudepigraphy and concepts of authorship in ancient writings, and a focus on practical and literary aspects of the production, reception, and transmission of texts in Antiquity, all have forced us to reconsider the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha in relation to the biblical scriptures. In this colloquium we will focus on different aspects of the relationship between texts generally referred to as Old Testament Pseudepigrapha and the scriptures of what we now know as Old Testament or Hebrew Bible. The invited contributors of the main lectures have been asked to discuss concrete exegetical and/or literary issues, which show how specific pseudepigrapha interact or intersect with scriptures, but also to touch upon more general and historical questions, how the phenomena of pseudepigraphy and pseudepigraphic texts relate to issues of scripturalization and canonization.

The colloquium will not only focus on the well-known Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, composed before or around the beginning of our era, which were already collected in the early-twentieth century collections, but also on comparable texts found among the Dead Sea Scrolls as well as somewhat later Old Testament pseudepigrapha. Concretely, contributors are asked to tackle one or more questions from the following clusters of questions. (1) What is the relation between a specific Old Testament pseudepigraphon (or group of related pseudepigrapha) and the scriptures? For example, does the pseudepigraphon use scripture, and, if so, how? Are we dealing with interpretation of scripture? With extension, or expansion? Are those pseudepigrapha parabiblical works? What is the function of the work’s pseudepigraphic attribution? More generally: is a specific relation to the scriptures essential to these pseudepigrapha? (2) How does the phenomenon of Old Testament Pseudepigrapha relate to the canonical process, both when those pseudepigrapha were produced, and when they were transmitted, translated, and collected? What internal and external evidence do we have for a formal or qualitative differentiation between pseudepigrapha and scriptures? (3) What was the function of Old Testament Pseudepigrapha in Christianity? In general, the issues of the use of and/or allusions to the well-known pseudepigrapha in the New Testament and Early Christian literature have extensively been dealt with. What were the attitudes of early Christians towards Old Testament pseudepigrapha? And why did Christians compose such pseudepigrapha? What does this tell us of Christian views on the Hebrew scriptures?

In this way, the proposed topic of the CBL 2012 interacts with several issues that are in the center of recent research, such as (1) the relation of parabiblical (or parascriptural) literature to biblical texts or scriptures and the canonical process; (2) the study of the production of texts in antiquity, and the issues of authorship and pseudepigraphy; (3) the reception and transmission of texts and traditions alongside the biblical tradition.

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