Inaugural Edgar W. Conrad Memorial Lecture: “On the Sabbath”

“On the Sabbath” is the inaugural Edgar W. Conrad Memorial Lecture with Dr Julie Kelso. The lecture will run from 7:30pm on Tuesday 19 September at Indooroopilly Uniting Church.

The Edgar W Conrad Memorial Lecture is designed to be offered annually on a topic that centres on the Bible and Contemporary Culture. In future years it will be presented under the auspices of Emmanuel College of the University of Queensland, as part of a series of lectures at the Emmanuel Centre for the Study of Science, Religion, and Society.

Edgar W. Conrad:

Edgar W. Conrad

Associate Professor Edgar William Conrad (1942-2017) was a leading researcher in biblical studies, noted for his significant role in moving the field from narrowly historical and linguistic emphases to broader literary and cultural questions.

Formerly head of the Department of Studies in Religion at the University of Queensland and recipient of the University’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, Conrad authored four books: Fear Not, Warrior; Reading Isaiah; Reading Zechariah; and Reading the Latter Prophets, two of which were translated into Korean. He also co-edited three books, Understanding the Word, Perspectives on Language and Text, and Redirected Travel, and wrote numerous articles. He was most recently working on a book for a popular audience, The Bible in the News, now being co-authored to completion by Dr Kelso.

Dr Julie Kelso:

Senior Lecturer in Philosophy and Literature at Bond University

Dr Julie Kelso

In his much-loved book The Sabbath (1951/2005), the Jewish American philosopher Abraham Joshua Heschel famously argues that because Judaism is a religion of time rather than space, one that aims at “the sanctification of time” (Heschel 2005, 8), its teaching concerns how to live according to “holiness in time” (8). He characterizes the rituals of Judaism as the “architecture of time” (8) and the Sabbath as a cathedral (8) or “palace in time” (15). Heschel wants us to refuse to dispense with what he considers to be the greatest gift from his God: the Sabbath, which he understands as “a realm of time where the goal is not to have but to be, not to own but to give, not to control but to share, not to subdue but to be in accord” (3).

These are beautiful words. However, Julie wants to question the ability of the Sabbath as it has been conceived to achieve what Heschel and others claim as its possibility: the promotion and practice of a reverence for life. For Heschel, we are quite able to control space, but not time. The Sabbath is the point in the week where we take respite from the tyranny of space and its things to dwell in the holiness of time; only then are we truly revering life for its own sake. Julie shall argue that because the Sabbath has only been considered from a masculinist perspective, notably as a gift of rejuvenating spirit and rest from a creator father-god who dwells beyond the cosmos he created on his own, the Sabbath can only continue to serve the masculine subject and the promotion of his perceived well-being. Julie shall suggest that this promotion of his well-being is not in fact accomplishable because of the failure to consider the sanctity of time and space from a woman’s perspective. As such, Julie suggeststhat the Sabbath is a valuable spatio-temporal concept in need of rethinking.

Dr Kelso is the author of O Mother Where Art Thou? An Irigarayan Reading of the Book of Chronicles (2007); co-editor of three books, including a Festschrift in honour of Ed Conrad; and the author of numerous essays in feminist philosophy, biblical studies, and literary studies.

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