I am making my recently defended master’s thesis available in PDF format at this link. The title and an abbreviated abstract are below.
“You Will Be Like the Gods”: The Conceptualization of Deity in the Hebrew Bible in Cognitive Perspective
This thesis has two primary goals: (1) to analyze the contours and extent of the generic category of deity in the Hebrew Bible, and (2) to propose a semantic base for the term. It begins with a description of the fields associated with cognitive theory, and particularly cognitive linguistics. Chapter 2 examines the cognitive origins of notions of deity and discusses how this heritage is reflected within the biblical texts. The third chapter examines the conceptualization of Israel’s prototypical deity, YHWH, beginning from the earliest divine profiles detectable within the text. In Chapter 4 the discussion returns to the generic notion of deity, highlighting references within the biblical text to deities other than YHWH. The conclusion synthesizes the different sections of the thesis, sketching the origins and development of the Hebrew Bible’s representation of both prototypical and non-prototypical notions of deity. Implications for further research are then briefly discussed.
Yesterday afternoon I defended my thesis, “‘You Will Be Like the Gods’: The Conceptualization of Deity in the Hebrew Bible in Cognitive Perspective,” to faculty and students at Trinity Western University. I gave a brief 20-minute presentation and then answered questions from my thesis committee, from other TWU faculty, and from students attending. The entire process was supposed to take no more than 2 hours, but I spent a full 90 minutes just fielding questions. There was a lot of interest in the topic, which was nice.
The committee deliberated for less than ten minutes, and I was asked to make some very small structural revisions and was given an A+. Two professors afterward commented that it was one of the best theses the school had produced. The director of graduate studies, who was in charge of all the administrative processes, told me she usually doesn’t sit through the defenses, but she found it so fascinating she just had to stick around. I was very flattered. Afterward my wife got to speak with several other students and professors, and many of them made a point of congratulating her and thanking her for her support, which she greatly appreciated.
It was very nice to be back in the northwest and to see some old friends. I enjoyed being back on TWU’s beautiful campus and talking biblical studies again with mostly the same faculty, staff, and students. It was a wonderful trip, and thanks to a new prescription of Valium my flight anxiety was non-existent for the flight back. It’s been a nice week, and now I get to sleep in my own bed again.
Thanks to everyone out there who has supported me in one capacity or another, in person or in spirit, as I pursued this degree and my previous two. It has meant a lot to me, but I don’t often get the chance to express it. Thanks again.
PS – Information on how my thesis will be made available in the future should be forthcoming.
N.T. Wright came and gave a series of lectures here at Trinity Western University a bit ago and videos of most of those lectures are now available here. Enjoy.