David Lambert

senior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2017/2018
discipline Regional Studies
Associate Professor, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of Religious Studies

Research project

The Bible and its Translation: How Western Notions of the Self are Read into Scripture

 

What emerges from my first book project, How Repentance Became Biblical: Judaism, Christianity, and the Interpretation of Scripture (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016)  is actually a series of questions concerning the translation of the Hebrew Bible into Western subjective terminology, the construction of Scripture as a personal, inward-directed, pedagogical, ultimately, pietistic text. In my second book project, “The Bible and its Translation: How Western Notions of the Self are Read into Scripture,” I take up this matter much more broadly by examining translational practices for the full range of Hebrew terms associated with feelings, cognition, mind, and the self. Other scholars have pointed out specific instances in which the objective, material quality of certain Hebrew terms, such as those for “love, “honor” and “joy” has been effaced.

 

I believe that an even broader case needs to be made, that it is possible to speak of an overall psychologization of the biblical lexicon that has largely disrupted what were once not only the material, but also the social implications of such terms. While this process of psychologization continues to the present day in many respects, its foundations are to be found in late antiquity, a period of increased focus on notions of interiority and the individual self as the nexus of religious knowledge and practice. Developments in discourses of the self can be traced through translations (such as the Septuagint and the Vulgate) but also, more broadly, by means of innovations in language usage. As with my previous project on “repentance,” my aim is to identify and articulate distinctions through comparison of broad swaths of primary material ranging from the Hebrew Bible to Hellenistic Jewish texts, early Christian texts, and rabbinic literature. In particular, I intend to focus on late antique interpretations of biblical literature that reveal changing notions of the self and, most significantly, an imposition of these notions back onto the biblical text.

 

Biography

 

David A. Lambert is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He received his undergraduate and doctoral degrees from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University.

 

He is interested in the Hebrew Bible as a textual object whose interpretation stands to tell us as much about its readers and their communities as it does about ancient Israelite origins. In that vein, he looks to bring historical critical approaches to the Hebrew Bible into closer conversation with the history of biblical interpretation. He is currently working on two book projects, one related to the dual concepts of Scripture and interpretation, and the other project to biblical Hebrew terms associated with the self, for which he has received the EURIAS fellowship.

 

Selected publications

 

How Repentance Became Biblical: Judaism, Christianity, and the Interpretation of Scripture, Oxford University Press, 2016.

 

'Honor in the Hebrew Bible', 'Honor in Second Temple and Hellenistic Judaism', & 'Honor in Rabbinic Literature', Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception, vol. 12, pp. 330-333 & pp. 337-341.

 

'Refreshing Philology: James Barr, Supersessionism, and the State of Biblical Words', Biblical Interpretation, vol. 24, no. 3, 2016, pp. 332-356.

 

'How the ‘Torah of Moses’ Became Revelation: An Early, Apocalyptic Theory of Pentateuchal Origins', Journal for the Study of Judaism, vol. 47, no. 1, 2016, pp. 22-54.

 

'The Book of Job in Ritual Perspective', Journal of Biblical Literature, vol. 134, no. 3, 2015, pp. 557-575.

 

institut

senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2013/2014
Israel Institute for Advanced Studies (IIAS)
discipline History
2013
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2017/2018
Israel Institute for Advanced Studies (IIAS)
discipline Philosophy
2017
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2017/2018
Israel Institute for Advanced Studies (IIAS)
discipline Mathematics
2017
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2015/2016
Israel Institute for Advanced Studies (IIAS)
discipline History
2015