Sunday, May 27, 2012

Back from NAPS

I am recovering from the 2012 NAPS conference in Chicago. I should clarify: that's the North American Patristics Society conference. On Thursday evening, Nathan Howard and I went to a very good Thai restaurant a few blocks from our hotel, and we told a lady sitting at a nearby table that we were attending a NAPS conference, and she gave us a funny look and asked "What's that?" I suppose she imagined sessions devoted to the pros and cons of spending a few minutes sleeping every afternoon, and theorizing on where the best place is to get catch a snooze.

This year I roomed with the aforementioned Nathan Howard, and also Everett Ferguson. I enjoyed getting to know both of these men, and it was an honor especially to share a room with Prof. Ferguson, internationally acclaimed patristics scholar and past president of NAPS itself.

Of course, I attended some sessions, learned some about areas of patristics I don't research as well as about areas directly relevant to my own scholarship. The banquet on Friday evening was fund, though expensive. And, I saw my book on display for the first time at a conference--Brill did come to this one. 

I did present a paper. It was titled, "Why Did Jerome Translate Tobit and Judith?" It was generally well-received; nobody threw anything, and several people afterwards mentioned that it was helpful. I plan to work it up into an article for submission to a journal, so I'll probably post some more about this later. For now, I'll just copy below the conclusion as I presented it at the conference. 
Why did Jerome translate Tobit and Judith? Our study has isolated several possible factors. First, he seems to have viewed these two books as authentic ancient Israelite literature, albeit written in Chaldean rather than Hebrew. He did not view the books of Maccabees, Wisdom of Solomon, or Sirach as ancient Israelite literature. Second, his classification of these books as Agiografa increases their prestige, even though he uses the term to mean something different from his earlier use of it in the Preface to Daniel  and the Prologus Galeatus. Third, the peculiar translation process he describes in the Preface to Tobit allows these Chaldean books to share—however tenuously—in the hebraica veritas, so that his translation will be truer and more correct than the Vetus Latina. Though a first or second reading of these prefaces, especially the Tobit preface, may leave the impression that Jerome would rather not have translated these books at all—an impression created, I think, by Jerome’s desire to stress the noncanonicity of these books—nevertheless, the translations themselves and certain elements of the prefaces reveal that Jerome does want these translations to find an audience that will profit from reading Tobit and Judith.

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