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SAJ’s fourth Hugh Baron Memorial Lecture with BENJAMIN D. SOMMER

December 7, 2021 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm EST

In-person and on Zoom
Please see this flyer for more details.

Benjamin D. Sommer, Professor of Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages at Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), one of the world’s leading biblical scholars and a noted theologian.  His ground-breaking books have won prestigious awards, and he is invited to speak at scholarly conferences, no surprise there.  But it is our good fortune that he loves to engage with lay groups, feeling that he learns much doing that.

Professor Sommer’s investigations range quite widely, but one of the areas he has most focused on is Psalms. In fact, he is editor of the forthcoming JPS 5 volume commentary on Psalms and the author of the first volume. In his lecture, which he has titled “Does God Talk Back? The Role of God in Psalms of Complaint” he will address a phenomenon that has long puzzled readers of Psalms: the surprisingly sudden shifts in mood from despair to trust. The psalms seem to encourage us to follow these shifts in our spiritual life. We will look at these shifts in light of several ancient Assyrian, Aramaic, and Egyptian texts which will yield surprising insights regarding the way psalms functioned in ancient Israelite temples. These insights can help us understand how psalms can come alive in our religious practices today The lecture will be delivered simultaneously to an in-person audience and to a Zoom audience. Anything said or heard in either audience will be heard by all.


December 7, 2021
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm EST
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15 W 86th St, New York, NY 10024, USA
15 W 86 St United States + Google Map
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