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Title: Worship as interpretation : the liturgical reception of Isaiah 6
Author: Selvén, Sebastian Yosef
ISNI:       0000 0004 7225 2290
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2017
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This dissertation is an investigation into how the Hebrew Bible is used in (Rabbinic) Jewish and Christian liturgical settings, and how this impacts biblical scholars. I argue against the neglect of liturgy and ritual in reception studies and make the case that liturgy is one of the major influential forms of biblical reception. I do this by taking Isa. 6:3 as my example. My liturgical material is the qedushah liturgies in Ashkenazi Judaism and the Sanctus in three church traditions; (pre-1969) Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism (the Church of England) and Lutheranism (Martin Luther, and the Church of Sweden). As my focus is lived liturgy I investigate not just worship manuals and prayerbooks but also architecture, music and choreography. With an eye to modern-day uses, I trace the historical developments of liturgical traditions. To do this, I have used methodological frameworks from performance and theatre studies, as well as Clifford Geertz’s concept of “thick description”, from the realm of anthropology. I then analyse the impact this can have on biblical researchers, who often come from religious backgrounds. First I raise the issue of the identity of the seraphim in Isaiah 6, and their transformation in both the qedushot and the Sanctus into angels. I show how some of the tendencies in Jewish and Christian liturgy, and Christian iconography, recur in scholarship, for example the association with cherubim. The idea of an ongoing angelic liturgy, stressed especially in Jewish worship, also finds its way into scholarship. A second theme is the presumed liturgical nature of Isa. 6:3 itself. This common idea may, however, owe more to Jewish and Christian liturgical uses of it than to the text itself. In this context I discuss Christian liturgical uses which stress Trinitarian and Christological understandings of the text. I also bring up a nineteenth-century Swedish liturgical use which deviates from the Sanctus tradition. I use this to probe some of the modern ideas of holiness, and how Protestant liturgy has played a part in shaping the sentiments among scholars. Lastly I discuss the theme of Divine presence. Both the qedushot and the Sanctus are concerned with the presence of God. Jewish liturgy has shown a strong tendency to complicate the notion while in Christian liturgy it is instead concretised, either affirmatively or negatively. Some of these issues translate into scholarly debates, where scholarship often bears clear marks of especially Reformed theology. One shared tendency in both Jewish and Christian worship is to “spiritualise” Isaiah 6, and transpose it to a heavenly court. I argue that these ideas still make themselves felt in research on Isaiah 6.
Supervisor: MacDonald, Nathan Sponsor: Sixten Gemzéus Stiftelse ; Spalding Trust ; Sir Richard Stapley Trust ; Helge Ax:son Johnsons Stiftelse
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Hebrew Bible ; Old Testament ; Liturgy