Thomas Römer’s Wonderful Introduction to Hebrew Bible / Old Testament Scholarship: Inaugural Lecture at the Collège de France (2009)

Jim West has chased down an open-access copy of a wonderful introduction to biblical scholarship on the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament: Thomas Römer’s inaugural lecture at the Collège de France (5 February 2009).

The English version: “The Horns of Moses: Setting the Bible in its Historical Context”

The original French version: “Les Cornes de Moïse: Faire entrer la Bible dans l’histoire”

A video of Römer’s inaugural lecture is available here, and includes many very useful slides which illustrate his talk:

Leçon inaugurale de Thomas Römer

In addition to his formidable erudition, there is also much humour to be found throughout Thomas Römer’s many works, and I draw your attention to his powerpoint illustration of paragraph 28 in his talk. Here Römer makes an excellent analogy between the manner in which the biblical composers employed earlier sources and the film Mamma Mia‘s employment of ABBA songs. This is one point where the video of his powerpoint illustration is most useful (see 36:55-38:16 in the video).

La première partie de la Bible hébraïque … n’est pas première ; elle est le résultat d’un effort théologique et éditorial de réunir, à l’intérieur d’une même bibliothèque, des traditions et des rouleaux d’époques diverses, véhiculant des idéologies différentes voire contradictoires. Pour illustrer un tel phénomène, permettez-moi d’évoquer un film qui a connu l’année dernière un certain succès et dont la banalité, si d’aventure vous l’avez vu, a dû vous effrayer. Il s’agit de Mamma Mia. Le fil narratif, donc la chronologie, de ce film, est clairement secondaire. Le seul but de l’intrigue est de permettre de regrouper et d’organiser un certain nombre de chansons du groupe suédois ABBA, qui à l’origine ne racontent pas une histoire continue et qui n’ont pas de liens thématiques entre elles. Il en va de même pour certaines « chronologies » bibliques.

The first part of the Hebrew Bible … was not actually first; it was the result of a theological and editorial effort to bring together, in the same volume, traditions and scrolls from different eras, conveying differing and even contradictory ideologies. To illustrate this phenomenon, allow me to mention a film that enjoyed considerable success last year and whose triviality, if you happened to see it, must have struck you. The film is Mamma Mia. The narrative, hence the chronology, of this film is clearly secondary. The only aim of the plot is to bring together and organize a number of songs of the Swedish group ABBA, which originally did not relate a continuous story and have no common thread. The same applies to certain biblical “chronologies”.

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3 thoughts on “Thomas Römer’s Wonderful Introduction to Hebrew Bible / Old Testament Scholarship: Inaugural Lecture at the Collège de France (2009)

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