PaCT Fellow Dr Virginia Miller has recently presented at two international conferences.
In July Dr Miller presented at the International CISLE Conference (Conference of the International Study of Literatures in English) on “Transcending Boundaries: Migrations, Dislocations and Literary Transformations”.
Her presentation with Professor Seumas Miller was on ‘Post-Exilic Writing in the Bible: Irony, Satire and the Book of Job.’
Her conference abstract read:
The exile to Babylon of the ancient Israelites was a defining moment in the formation of Jewish identity. The Israelites had to re-imagine their identity in a foreign setting and one in which they were essentially held captive. This and other exiles spawned creative writing on a grand scale, notably the Book of Job in the Old Testament. For the Israelites, as for other diasporic peoples, satire provided a means of collective self-reflection and reform as well as enabling a powerful political ‘voice’. It has been suggested by some scholars that the Book of Job is a satire and, as such, has much ironic content. However, there has been no definitive analysis of the irony in the Book of Job and, for that matter, of the role of irony in relation to satire in general and to the satiric content in the Book of Job in particular. This paper aims to fill these lacunae. It provides a new theory of verbal irony (by way of a significant modification of D C Muecke’s influential account) and applies it to the Book of Job, thereby enabling a new interpretation of the satiric content of that work.
Thereafter she presented at the Society of Biblical Literature conference held at Helsinki University from July 30-3 August on ‘The Unknown ‘Truth’ of Nathan’s Character.’
The abstract read:
In their influential paper, The King Through Ironic Eyes: Biblical Narrative and the Literary Reading Process, Perry and Sternberg suggest there are many ‘gaps’ in the literature of the books of Samuel. The ‘gaps’ in this sense are missing knowledge in the text. Notably, Perry and Sternberg argue that there are gaps in knowledge in 2 Samuel 11. For instance, did Uriah know that David slept with Bathsheba or not? The text does not tell us. The different possibilities concerning Uriah’s knowledge of David’s sins are interesting. However, they do not impact the primary message of the narrative – that the king of Israel is corrupt (in my view). In this presentation I take Perry and Sternberg’s general proposition further. I discuss a gap of knowledge in I Kings I that could call into question the legitimacy of Solomon’s kingship. In this narrative Nathan directs Bathsheba to discuss with David a putative oath that David made concerning Solomon as his rightful successor. This ‘forgotten’ oath is problematic in the narrative since Adonijah, the rightful king by birthright, is concurrently making preparations to replace David as king and, crucially, doing so with David’s blessing. There are significant gaps in knowledge in this narrative. For instance, it is not known if David truly did make an oath concerning Solomon but forgot it, due to his aged state, or if Nathan and Bathsheba are tricking David by pretending that he made an oath and forgot it. This paper will explore both possibilities; (a) that David did make an oath that Solomon would replace him as king – in which case Nathan’s good character is preserved in this narrative, and (b) that David did not make an oath that Solomon would replace him as king – in which case Nathan’s character as a noble prophet is compromised. The upshot, stressed in this paper, is that the Bible, as a literary work, is highly ambiguous at times and does not always offer uncontested ‘truths’. In this narrative we cannot be sure if Nathan, God’s spokesperson on earth and advisor to the king, is a righteous character or not. Furthermore, we cannot know whether or not Solomon had any claim to succeed David to the throne.