Changing Plans

15 01 2007

Just a brief note to say that, within the space of last week, several important changes have taken place.

• I am no longer going to be doing an MA in English Literature alongside my PhD; instead, I am going to be doing an MA in Ancient History and am now in the process of choosing my majors. While the university offers courses in the history of both Greece and Rome, I may decide to settle on a major in Egyptology instead.
• I have changed my supervisor and, in so doing, my PhD thesis proposal. Previously working under the supervision of Prof. Rifaat Ebied, I shall now be working with Dr Ian Young – who was also my supervisor during my Honours year, 2006.

My new topic (in brief; details await a little more research on my part):
• I will investigate claims that Nehemiah is composed of two compositional strands, broadly divided into Nehemiah’s memoirs and ‘everything else’. Some scholars have argued that we can differentiate between the two strands on the basis of linguistics, and that a late author has betrayed their own position in time with the high frequency of Late Biblical Hebrew (LBH) forms. Similar to the work that I did on my Honours thesis (although that was only concerned with one particular LBH feature), I will need to undertake a thorough linguistic analysis of the text in question.
• The nature of this topic is such that a discussion is also in order concerning the provenance of the book in question. Researching the origins of Nehemiah will happily involve studying the Septuagint (LXX), the extant Targums¹, the deuterocanonical Esdras texts, as well as relevant materials from the Dead Sea Scrolls. I look forward to being busy!

My candidature does not commence until March 5th, so I am hoping to utilise as much of the intervening time as possible in making some headway, the better to extend the overall time that I am given. My scholarship does not kick in until my formal enrollment, so I am without money between now and then and thus desperately in need of work. I am also looking for a place to live as I would like to move out as soon as is reasonably possible, making the old adage that a change is as good as a holiday rather ironic. While in some instances that might be true, this change is proving to be a most stressful “holiday” indeed!

¹ Addendum: there are no extant Targums to Nehemiah. Whoops.

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2 responses

21 01 2007
Billie Jean

Your new topic sounds interesting. We’ve been wondering lately about the different styles in Eichah. Is that the same sort of difference linguistically?

Good luck finding a job and a place. Are you looking for a job that you can keep after you start your PhD?

21 01 2007
Simon Holloway

Thanks – lots of Biblical books exhibit evidence that they are composed of more than one source, and this evidence is often linguistic. Lamentations is an interesting example in that the different chapters are also so different structurally – leading some scholars to suggest that it is actually speaking of two different destructions: one by the Babylonians and a second, more recent one, by the Persians. I have not looked into this personally, and do not know the extent to which this theory (first pioneered by Morgenstern, I believe) carries any weight.

Job-wise, I just found one! The hours are relatively lax and, while I’m working every day at the moment, I will be able to drop down once March comes around and my other commitments increase. As for apartment-searching… grr.

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