April 13, 2017—Columbia Theological Seminary’s Assistant Professor of Old Testament Brennan W. Breed is being honored for his work, Nomadic Text: A Theory of Biblical Reception History (Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2014). He is among ten winners to receive the prestigious 2016 Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award for Theological Promise, an international award given annually by Forschungsinstitut Internationale und Interdisziplinäre Theologie to outstanding first books in theology. The celebration of the Awards will take place at the University of Heidelberg (Germany) in May.
In the book, Dr. Breed focuses on one broad question: how do sacred texts function? Whereas most biblical scholars study the text as it functioned in its ancient context, arguing explicitly or implicitly that the true function of the text lies in its origin, recent work in “reception history” traces the uses of biblical texts in Jewish, Christian and Muslim contexts from the ancient to the modern world. Nomadic Text argues that sacred scriptures are most rigorously understood by investigating all that they have done throughout history in a variety of cultural and religious contexts and in the broad diversity of their manuscript forms.
“For text-centric religions such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam, understanding the meaning of sacred texts is a crucial aspect of both theology and spirituality,” says Dr. Breed. “If the nature of a sacred text is best expressed by what it does over the course of its history of use, rather than what it meant at the end point of its history of production, then Nomadic Text will have wide-ranging implications for theology and spirituality in multiple religious traditions.”
The work behind Nomadic Text was originally part of Dr. Breed’s Ph.D. thesis at Emory University, for which he was also awarded a Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. He recently discussed the book on a podcast last week for the “New Books Network.”
Before studying at Emory, Dr. Breed earned degrees at Princeton Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and the University of Virginia (B.A.). He also co-authored Daniel: A Commentary with renowned Biblical scholar Dr. Carol A. Newsom, the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Old Testament at the Candler School of Theology of Emory University.
In addition to his work at Columbia Theological Seminary, Dr. Breed serves on the editorial board for the Bible Odyssey Project for the Society of Biblical Literature. He is also assistant editor and review editor for Marginalia Review of Books, and serves as the Wister Cook Theologian-in-Residence at The Episcopal Church of the Epiphany in Atlanta, GA. Recently, he and fellow Columbia Seminary professor Raj Nadella organized a conference on Bible, Empire, and Reception History, which attracted scholars from around the world to discuss the production and use of the Bible in various historical contexts of empire. Dr. Breed is currently writing a commentary on the book of Ecclesiastes for Eerdman’s Illuminations series with Davis Hankins, as well as a monograph tracing the remarkable re-use of the “four-kingdom schema” (found in Daniel 2 and 7) over the last two and a half millennia in Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities.
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