I’m preparing the following proposal to submit to the SBL annual meeting’s Israelite Religion in Its West Asian Environment program unit:
“My Name is In Him”: The Messenger of YHWH and Distributed Agency in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East
This paper examines the nature and function of the Hebrew Bible’s “messenger of YHWH,” focusing particularly on the blending of the messenger’s identity with that of YHWH. It will argue that the earliest appearances of the messenger in the biblical narratives arise from the textual interpolation of the word malak in the interest of obscuring YHWH’s physical presence and activity among the Israelites. These interpolations will be shown to have predated other narrative traditions within the Hebrew Bible, but as a result of cognitive mechanisms related to the conceptualization of divine agency and its communicability that had long been in place within Israelite and Assyro-Babylonian cult practices, later authors were equipped to seamlessly adopt the notion of the mediation of a semi-autonomous divine agent who could speak and act in the very name of the God of Israel. This distributable divine agency would become conceptualized in one influential iteration as YHWH’s “name,” which could indwell architecture as well as anthropomorphic agents, extending the deity’s presence well beyond the conceptual confines of earlier tradition and cult. The implications of this understanding of the Israelite conceptualization of divine agency are far reaching.
I was notified today that both my SBL paper proposals were accepted. The first will be presented in the Book of Psalms section and is entitled “Psalm 82 within the Psalms of Asaph.” The second will be presented in the Latter-day Saints and the Bible section and is entitled “Psalm 82 in the Modern Latter-day Saint Tradition.” I will have to track down the abstracts, but when I do I will post them here.
I just received word from SBL executive director John Kutsko that they will postpone the implementation of the new student paper submission policy until 2012 and will undertake further discussion. This is great news. A special thanks to Pat and the others who worked hard to make sure our concerns were addressed. Here’s the text of the email:
Dear Student Member:
The Executive Committee of Council met on 12 January 2011 to discuss concerns over the recent policies regarding student participation in the Society’s Annual Meeting. The policies that were announced in November 2010 required all students without a doctoral degree to submit to the Program Unit Chair the full text of the paper they intended to read and limited the number of sessions student can participate in (as panelist, presenter, and respondent) to one.
The action taken by the Executive Committee of Council, effective immediately , is to postpone the implementation of these policies and to undertake additional discussion of these matters at the Spring 2011 Council meeting. This action thereby sets aside these requirements and restrictions until 2012, pending further review.
I want personally to thank the members of the Student Advisory Board and the network of OSRs for the conversations we have had concerning these matters. They are active advocates for student interests. Please do continue these conversations with me or with representatives on SAB. SAB will provide a report directly to Council in April.
On behalf of Council, we look forward to receiving your suggestions and proposals for discussion and review, and we are especially grateful for your active participation.
John F. Kutsko
Society of Biblical Literature