- improve my German;
- get to know an entirely different theological culture which has deeply influenced biblical academia since the 19th century (I mean, of course, the culture of 'higher criticism'). Last year I hung out with the Protestants (the faculties are denominationally ordered here, unlike in England, where we're all thrown into the same class room), this year I'm going to hang out with Catholics, who look far more interesting (L. Hossfeld runs the OT department. He's worked closely with Zenger on the Psalms and is interested in synchronic approaches to the Bible).
The two seminars I've decided to visit are "Die Psalmen im Neuen Testament" ("The Psalms in the New Testament") and "Das Alte Testament und seine Transparenz auf Christus hin" ("The Old Testament and its Transparency to Christ"). The second looks especially interesting, given the intellectual climate found in Bonn and the nature of my doctorate, which has something to do with reading the Old Testament as the Word of God.
So much for personal details. Iyov has started a thread on Bible translation and has posted an interesting link to a tribute to Derrida, found on the SBL (Society of Biblical Literature) website. It's worth a read if you think postmodernism is about believing what you want to believe. Here's an interesting quote from the article:
"Derrida, who never once associated himself with the much-abused term "postmodern," tended to regard newness with suspicion. Newness is too prone to make a straw man of "old"-ness, and to demolish old world orders to make new ones (often with catastrophic results). Commenting on Jesus's saying about new wineskins and new cloth (Matt. 9.14-17; Mk 2.18-22; Lk 5.33-39), he recommended a more humble, less apocalyptic form of "newness." Newness should be aware that it is always repatching and reweaving old cloth. "
Attached at the end of the article is a fascinating audio recording (mp3) of a public dialogue with Derrida at 2002 SBL Annual Meeting: "On Religion: An Interview With Jacques Derrida". He's asked questions by Yvonne Sherwood, John D. Caputo, and Kevin Hart, on topics to do with prayer, the relationship of deconstruction to Christianity and, my favorite, his interpretation of two midrashim found in Genesis Rabba.
Tomorrow I'll continue the "in accordance with scripture" sub-thread.