Psalmody as an Alternative to Theodicy

Psalmody as an Alternative to Theodicy November 3, 2023

Upcoming Oxford Interfaith Forum Event on 23 November, 2023

Psalmody as an Alternative to Theodicy

We are deeply honoured to welcome Revd Dr John Goldingay to deliver a special anniversary lecture for the Psalms in Interfaith Contexts Reading Group.

Here are the details of this fascinating session.

Topic: Psalmody as an Alternative to Theodicy

Abstract: Theodicy has become a significant topic in the study of the Hebrew Scriptures, and the Psalms are a natural work to approach through this lens. They are often concerned, that is, with the way Israel or individual Israelites find life not working out as one might expect, on the basis of the Lord’s power and commitment to them. But theodicy is a theological or philosophical topic of discussion concerning God’s nature and God’s involvement in the world, and the Psalms do not exactly engage in that kind of theological and philosophical reflection. They engage in theology, especially by engaging in doxology, and the dynamic of the theology comes out forcefully in this way. The presupposition of this paper is that the same applies to the Psalms’ approach to theodicy. Whereas the Psalms themselves directly discuss theodicy only rarely, they do address the Lord and they address people over the matters that have become the concerns of theodicy. But their own direct concern is to give expression to or resource a way of living with the experiences that issue in the theodicy question, rather than to think about the question itself. And for the most part, they do it by making it a topic for conversation between Israel and the Lord. So in this paper, I seek to engage with the way the Psalms address Yahweh in praise, protest, and thanksgiving, and also address people in confession, appeal, and testimony, to engage with them aware of the issues that modernity and postmodernity raise in discussion of theodicy, but in a fashion not too bound by the framework of that discussion.

Speaker: Revd Dr John Goldingay (DD, Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth) is the David Allan Hubbard Professor Emeritus of Old Testament in the School of Theology of Fuller Theological Seminary in California but lives in Oxford, England. He was previously principal and professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at St. John’s Theological College in Nottingham, England. His books include An Introduction to the Old Testament, A Reader’s Guide to the Bible, Reading Jesus’s Bible, and commentaries on Psalms, Isaiah, and Daniel. He has also authored Biblical Theology, the three-volume Old Testament Theology, and the seventeen-volume Old Testament for Everyone series, and has published a translation of the entire Old Testament called The First Testament: A New Translation.

Chair: Revd Dr David Firth, Tutor in Old Testament Studies, and Leader of Undergraduate Course, Trinity College, Bristol, UK.

Date: 23 November, 2023

Time: 18:00-19:00 GMT | 19:00-20:00 CEST | 10:00-11:00 PT | 13:00-14:00 ET

Registration via: https://www.oxfordinterfaithforum.org/thematic-international-interfaith-reading-groups/psalms-in-interfaith-contexts/psalmody-as-an-alternative-to-theodicy/

We look forward to seeing you soon.

This is just one of the many upcoming events that the Oxford Interfaith Forum is hosting online. I’ve shared this one here on my blog because it intersects with my course on the Bible and music, but I definitely recommend checking out the other upcoming events on the Oxford Interfaith Forum website.

Of related interest, the Milken Archive has shared an incredible wealth of content in its most recent emails to subscribers. Have a listen to and/or read:

Excerpts from Songs of Zion

Symphonic Music of Jewish Experience

Jewish Voices in the New World (more here and here)

Swing His Praises

Jonathan Klein on Herbie Hancock’s private release Hear O Israel

Negotiating Jewish Identity in Dave Brubeck’s The Gates of Justice

Compilation: Weill, Kidush and Davidson, …And David Danced Before the Lord

Shabbat for Today

Of only distantly related interest, have you heard the “new” Beatles song with AI-generated vocals by the late John Lennon? If so, what do you think of this use of AI technology?

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