Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Library Time

Monday, Ellen and I went to Amherst in the afternoon. I went to the Amherst College library (the Robert Frost Library), and Ellen went to the Amherst Cinema. She saw Ladybird, and then we joined up for a 4:20 showing of I, Tonya, which we both liked a lot. It was both dark and funny. I remember the Nancy Kerrigan incident and how shocking it was. I don't think I felt a lot of sympathy for Tonya Harding at the time, but if this film is at all accurate about her background, some sympathy would have been appropriate.

My time in the Frost Library gave me an appreciation for the Wheaton College Library back in Illinois. It's a good library for sure, but for what I am doing, Wheaton's holdings were superior. But the fun of being in the stacks is running across something you weren't looking for. In this case it was this book: 

     Festschrift for Norman Gottwald

Gottwald was a professor at Andover-Newton seminary back in the 60's when I was a grad student at Brown. In 1963 or so, he was a visiting professor at Brown in Religious Studies, teaching introduction to the Old Testament, and I was his graduate assistant. I graded student exams and papers, led discussion sections, and fielded student questions in Gottwald's absence. I enjoyed working for him, and I respected the way he had integrated his political activism (this was, of course, the era of the civil rights movement and the anti-Vietnam war movement), with his scholarship in the Old Testament. Wikipedia identifies him as an "American Marxist Biblical scholar." His magnum opus in that regard was a 900-page tome titled The Tribes of Yahweh, which was ground-breaking in terms of socio-political analysis of Israel's tribal origins and organization. I was touched to "reconnect" with him through his Festschrift. It contains a number of very interesting essays. If he is still living, he will be 92 this year. 

                Norman Gottwald 

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