The final Research colloquium for 2016 is scheduled for this Friday 2nd December starting at 1.30pm. The program is as follows:
1.30pm – 2.15pm Aubrey Buster Guest Presenter Historical Recital as Social Strategy in Nehemiah 9:6-37
2.15pm – 3.00pm Anthony Rees Faculty Presentation Moses UnManned: Numbers 20 and Masculine Agency
3.00pm – 3.45pm Mohammad Ahmad MA Research Presentation The Creation of Adam in the Image of God: Islam’s Hadith Tradition
Aubrey Buster Historical Recital as Social Strategy in Nehemiah 9:6-37
My dissertation project traces the development of the abbreviated historical summaries contained in ancient Israelite psalms and prayers as mental “schemata” designed to create a common basis of shared memory in Second Temple Judaism. In a culture where literacy rates would have been very low, this collection of textually preserved prayers offers access to a significant recursive cultural strategy, a strategy whereby the public recitation of easily remembered texts establishes the basis for a common national and religious consciousness. This common “education” provides fertile ground for the eventual maturation of the rich written traditions preserved and disseminated in Second Temple Judaism.
In this preliminary presentation of what will become the third chapter of my dissertation, I discuss the prayer contained in Nehemiah 9:6-37 as a social strategy, designed to unify post-exilic Judea around a common language and a common history. Recent scholarship on the books of Ezra-Nehemiah has revealed increasing polarity in the early reconstruction of Judah and Jerusalem following the Babylonian exile. These studies attempt to identify whose interests are being represented in each rhetorical presentation preserved in the accounts that make up these post-exilic books. The resultant picture is that of a fragmented community, wielding polemical language against other groups in an attempt to gain authoritative status within the community. In Nehemiah 9, we witness what will be revealed to be a remarkably successful speech event, in which themes drawn from a variety of strands of the scriptural tradition are both unified and wielded as a basis for communal action. Recognizing this as a consciousness-raising event, a small group gathering in which particular themes are introduced, dramatized, and then “chained out” in the actions of the community also recognizes this event as a key social link in the communal assent to what will become their common authoritative text.
Anthony Rees Moses UnManned: Numbers 20 and Masculine Agency
In Numbers 20, with the people of Israel suffering on account of thirst, Moses reprises an act which he had used previously (Exodus 17) to provide water for the people: namely, striking a rock with his staff. As in the first instance, this proved to be successful, and water flowed sufficient to sate the thirst of the people and their livestock. Contrary to the first instance, Moses is punished for his actions and this episode is given as the reason for his death outside the promised land.
Utilising insights from masculinity studies, this paper re-examines the Numbers 20 story as an ‘un-manning’ of Moses. That is, Moses’ attempts to be ‘the man’ are undone by the über-masculine Yhwh who seems unwilling – at least in this instance – to share agency with Moses.
Mohammad Ahmad The Creation of Adam in the Image of God: Islam’s Hadith Tradition
The concept of al-insan al-kamil, or the perfect human being, is largely a topic studied in Islam’s Sufi, or mystical, tradition. The two scholars, ibn al-‘Arabi (d.1240) and al-Jili (d.1424) are the major contributors to the concept of al-insan al-kamil, and have introduced a theological and ontological depth to this concept founded upon al-asmaa al-husna, or the Divine Names of God. Both ibn al-‘Arabi and al-Jili claim their formulations are based on Qur’an and hadith. Of the hadith traditions that ibn al-‘Arabi and al-Jili cite, is the hadith: “God created Adam in His image”, however, their interpretations are rather enigmatic, and difficult for those unfamiliar with Sufi methodology. This paper aims to examine the interpretation of the hadith “God created Adam in His image” through the lens of another discipline within the Islamic tradition, primarily through the discipline of hadith interpretation and commentary. It is aimed to highlight the similarities and differences between Sufi and hadith interpreters, as a means to identify the place of ibn al-‘Arabi and al-Jili’s interpretations amongst mainstream scholarship.
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