To all students at the University of Göttingen, I volunteer to teach Ezekiel’s Oracles against the Nations (chapters 25-32) in this coming semester (WiSe 2014/2015). For more details, you can check out this link on UniVZ.
Yes, it is about my recently defended thesis 🙂
For practical reason, the classes will be cancelled if there are no more than five students for each class in the first two weeks… How cruel! ;-p
So I’m going to do a bit of promotion about this course. This promotion is also to assure you that die Übungsleiterin is NOT an alien monster, a runaway fugitive or a bloody murderer. In what follows, I will introduce myself and the genesis of my interest in Ezekiel’s Oracles against the Nations. This introduction is going to act like a CV, except that it is going to be in the form of a narrative, and except that it is going to be very long, like in a series! Anyway, Adam Fletcher’s hilarious How to be German/Wie Man Deutscher wird has already told us, a German CV has to be “a giant document, death by minutiae.” I am just trying to fit into this flow of German tradition.
“Wait,” you will ask. “Shouldn’t your scholarship be separated from your personal life? Why should we bother to understand your past in order to understand your work? After all, it has to be totally objective, isn’t it?”
“Sorry,” I will stare at you puzzlingly. “I don’t understand your question. What does objectivity really mean to you?” Once I watched a BBC programme about interior design. Depending on the colour, lighting, texture, pattern and furniture arrangement in a single room, our eyes can actually be brought to perceive the dimensions of the same room in different terms. In an analogous way, depending on our external experience and lived environments, we are disposed to perceive the biblical texts in different ways. The way we gather the textual evidence and the way we make up a set of criteria to evaluate our evidence all reflect subjectivity. What makes true scholars different from the other amateurs, in my opinion, is their willingness to explore, gather, discuss, argue and criticise the opinions of the others or even of themselves. That means, a scholar’s work represents not a total objectivity but rather a more informed subjectivity. To say one’s position as totally devoid of personal Tendenz, it seems to me, is a rather presumptive claim.
So, if you are interested in my viewpoint on Ezekiel 25-32, why don’t you spend some time to get to know the behind-the-scene stories? I will try to be transparent and honest as much as possible. Hopefully I can show you why I just can’t get enough of Ezekiel 25-32, even after four and a half years since I have written down my doctoral research proposal. This is also a reply to all those people I have kept bumping into in the previous years, who have remarked: Why can’t you just focus on the famous visions of Ezekiel? How do the Oracles against Nations have to do with anything?
Just one more thing about the structure of the following series. The reason that I am drawn to Ezekiel’s Oracles against the Nations is due to the fascinating concept of “nations.” My perspectives to the texts are indelibly shaped by my study and living experience in several nations that I have stayed in for a relatively longer period (at least for more than six months). In what follows, I will divide and categorize my stories chronologically, covering Malaysia, Australia, Israel/Middle East and Germany. Just bear in mind, I am not going to tackle the comprehensive history of each nation, which belongs to the task of professional historians. Even though some “official” historical events might shed light on my experience, the stories predominantly remain my own first-hand encounters and reflections.
Here come my stories…